- 19th Scientific Meeting of the Japanese Society of Anti-Aging Medicine
- Chair Hiroshi Itoh, M.D., Ph.D
- Professor and Chairman, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nephrology,
- Department of Internal Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine
The 19th Scientific Meeting of the Japanese Society of Anti-Aging Medicine will be held at Pacifico Yokohama over the three-day period from Friday, June 14 to Sunday, June 16, 2019.
The Japanese Society of Anti-Aging Medicine was established in 2001 to practice theoretical and practical science, aiming at healthy longevity. As we organize the 19th Meeting in 2019, we aspire to even greater heights under the completely new theme of anti-aging medicine. We hope to gather together knowledgeable people from diverse fields and with different perspectives at this Meeting to present new ideas and innovative solutions for “Taking Anti-Aging to a New Dimension” in Japan.
By chance, 2019 will also be the start of a new era in Japan as the Crown Prince ascends the throne as the next Emperor. We view this 19th Meeting in 2019 as an opportunity to take a quantum leap forward to the New Era of Anti-Aging Medicine. For this reason, we have set the 19th Meeting’s theme as “Taking Anti-Aging to a New Dimension.”
Today the “100-year life” is frequently heard phrase. Half of the children born today will live to be 100 years old. In the context of the declining population, decreasing birthrate and aging population, despite anxiety about social sustainability and longer lifespans, there is a difference of about 10 years between “life expectancy”, the time until life comes to an end, and “health life expectancy”, the time one can live independently, and this gap has never narrowed. However, despite recent advances in medicine, human life expectancies are limited. This has been reported to be estimated at about 115 years of age. How should we face this reality?
I believe that our lives that live to be 100 will be largely polarized in the future. Those who adopt active lifestyles until 100 and die full of years, and those who struggle to reach the age of 100 with the help of those around them. A happy 100-year life and an unhappy 100-year life. What is it that separates them?
Wanting to be happy until our very last breath…is this not our ultimate wish? From this idea, I have recently advocated the concept of a “happy life expectancy”, as another dimension of our lifespans. I think there is an essence of “anti-aging” in the extension of a “happy life expectancy”. In a nutshell, living a happy life is living a “beautiful” life. But, what does it really mean to be “beautiful”? I hope to be able to think through this problem together with you all at this meeting that is concerned with the concept of “beauty”.
Meeting Poster: Youthful Ise Lobster
I designed the meeting poster (Fig. 1) in line with the theme of this year’s meeting based on the pattern of the Shimenawa Ebi Nuimoyou Uchikake (from the collection at the Tokyo National Museum, Fig. 2), a formal overgarment called an uchikake from the Edo era. On the kimono is drawn a figure of the auspicious Ise lobster, a symbol of health and longevity since old times, and pine trees, symbolizing everlasting youth. The kimono also features shimenawa, rope used as a talisman against evil, warding off disasters from early youth to old age. I placed an image of the youthful Ise lobster with an unbent waist, vivaciously and full of life until the age of 115, which is regarded as the limit of human life, at the center of the poster, using the shimenawa to resemble genes. Then, I drew this like a chemical modification (methylation, acetylation) responsible for epigenome control that allows you to freely manipulate how genes work depending on the environment and life experiences, using gohei (staff with plaited paper streamers) or heisoku/nusa (offerings of rope or paper hung on trees in Shinto shrines) to resemble histone proteins. In the background, genome editing, mitochondria, intestinal bacteria, mass spectrometry imaging, and low-molecular-weight metabolites, such as nicotinamide mononucleotides (NMN), at the frontier of today’s anti-aging medical research, are placed in the vast universe.
My "Anti-Aging Medicine": 40-year-old memories
This is a photo of the cover of a program I designed when I was in my fourth year of medical school in 1980, when the English conversation club of the Kyoto University Faculty of Medicine managed the West Japan English Medical Association (see figure). No doubt, “anti-aging medicine” was the dream I saw at that time, about 40 years ago. “Molecular biology”, in which experiment and theory are an inseparable pair, made a dramatic appearance in the field of biology, where natural history had always been the mainstream. In 1953, Watson and Crick discovered the DNA double-helix model and Jacob and Monod proposed the operon theory in 1961 to explain gene regulation in enzyme synthesis. Excited, I stood and listened to an unbelievably-packed lecture by Watson at the library of the Kyoto University Faculty of Education at that time and tried to read Monod’s “Le Hasard et la Nécessité” (Chance and Necessity) (It was honestly too difficult for me). It was the rise of molecular biology, in a style where everything could be explained with DNA.
Prior to this, in the 1940s, Delbrück had proven that DNA passed on the traits of living things using a bacteriophage. The figure is based on the electron microscopy image presented by Luria, a close colleague of Delbrück, where the phage landing on the surface of E.coli is trying to inject its own DNA into the E.coli just to multiply. For me, this overlapped with the image of Apollo 11 landing on the moon. There, I felt the stupendous power of genes and dreamed that a future of “perpetual youth and longevity” could be reached. In the figure, I pinned these feelings to the Noh mask of an old man called "Okina". At that time, AI technologies did not exist, but in college classes, I had been taught how to write a Fortran program, where computers were handled like efficient, electrically-powered calculators. But, I had no doubt that the future is rewritten with the development of machines and robots, so I thought that on Okina’s face, the eyes would be drawn as film cameras (not digital cameras), ears as headphones, with record players and cassette tapes (no CDs), and the mouth as a dial phone(!) and typewriter. Today, all of these things are extinct, relics of the Showa era. However, regardless of how much science and technology develop, the brain is drawn always as the brain, based on the belief that the brain will never be replaced by a machine. Today, in this world 40 years later, even this very belief is being shaken to its core.