LifeSpan: Epigenetics and Aging
Longevity insights and learnings inspired by Dr. Steve Horvath (inventor of the Epigenetic Clock) and Dr. David Sinclair (Professor in the Department of Genetics and Co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School and New York Times Best Selling Author of LifeSpan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To).
Little did I know when I stumbled into Dr. Steve Horvath’s lab at UCLA in September 2015, that it would forever change my life. How could I have foreseen the change it would have on me, my life, my career—on my understanding of the world, what was possible, and what will become—in ways I could hardly imagine.
A lot has changed in four years. And this year, with a corporate transaction that permits me to focus my full-time efforts on the conversation that emanated from Dr. Horvath’s lab, my efforts seem to be culminating with the release of Dr. David Sinclair’s book, LifeSpan—and my purpose has come into clear focus.
Every great entrepreneur seeks to find their calling, some do, some don’t, some succeed, some fail—but their unified calling is to build businesses that expand their understanding of humanity and fulfill their quest to manifestly create. Last month I wrote “The Horvath Clock Enters Pop Culture“, where I shared my surprise as I flipped on YouTube to see Joe Rogan’s new podcast with Dr. David Sinclair. I was familiar with David’s work and had listened to Joe Rogan’s podcast with David a year ago. So with some anticipation, I clicked on the video and was amazed to find at 2:30 into the conversation David describing his recent trips to Israel and Africa with the principal investigator of a new scientific study that demonstrated a reversal in aging. This investigator studied a little known amazing scientific field called epigenetics and had invented “The Horvath Clock” which measured biological aging. WHAT?! Did he just say that?! Did Sinclair just utter epigenetics and The Horvath Clock to millions of listeners?! Who could have possibly foreseen that would happen? Who could have foreseen the release of David’s book LifeSpan? Who would have expected that epigenetics would now become the central character in the disease of aging? How would this influence our business? Our brand? And future plans? The importance and significance of all of this is still sinking in—as I listen and read David’s book LifeSpan again, and again.
LifeSpan is an incredible book, both in terms of its intellectual content, biological thesis, and story-telling. Digesting the book’s contents and grappling with its significance has been nothing less than amazing for me. As a non-scientist, the book tied together the missing links between my base understanding of epigenetics and its role in our biology— the book dramatically expanded my thinking of base biology—further instilling a sense of amazing wonderment. Let me see if I can do this properly—the central theorem of the book is as follows:
- Our biological code is stored in our DNA (A, C, T, G) a hard code of information that contains the instructions of who we are biologically;
- Our DNA code has survived billions of years, mutating and evolving to get us to where we are today, it’s robust, it’s strong, it’s resilient and ancient;
- Our DNA code is contained in every cell of our body, the same copy that we first got on the day we were conceived from the germ cells of our Mother and Father, in each and every cell;
- Our DNA code is like digital information that is highly stable, accurate and reproducible;
- How our cells differentiate (i.e., nerve cell, muscle cell, blood cell) is determined by what part of the DNA code is expressed so proteins can get to work on building;
- Our DNA code expression is driven by an epigenetic code that has evolved with us as our environment and behaviors have changed;
- Our epigenetic code is like analog information that is less accurate and highly responsive to the environment and exposure; and
- Our epigenetic code breaks down over time and cells lose the information on how to behave—ultimately resulting in aging, disease, and death.
This is why “The Horvath Clock” has proven to be such a reliable predictor of aging and mortality. This is why epigenetic clocks such as EEAA, PhenoAge, and GrimAge work. This was the “eureka” moment for me. Lifespan explains how biology is working at a molecular level to make and maintain you. Sinclair’s theory of aging as a disease of epigenetic information loss is as intuitive as it is brilliant.
Hypothesizing that we age and disease because we lose epigenetic information is simply amazing for our plans to commercialize epigenetic technology for the longevity industry. Understanding that we have the ability to better control our destiny by managing our behavior to live longer, healthier lives and have the promise of aiding in the discovery of the single line of code that helps solve for the disease of aging is an incredible charge for our company and my personal entrepreneurial adventure.
Lifespan is an amazing book! Anyone interested in healthspan and aging will thoroughly enjoy this read. Thank you, David Sinclair, for writing this and making this information available for us all to understand.