John & Carrie on BOSS-Talks — Free Webinar – Mon., Nov 10, 12-1 CST

November 7, 2014

BOSS-Talks: Tech Tools Free Webinar:

“MiniTrends: Trends Inside Trends”

with Dr. John H. Vanston and Carrie Vanston

Monday, November 10, 2014, 12-1 pm CST
In this one-hour online webinar, award-winning authors Dr. John H. Vanston, and Carrie Vanston discuss the MiniTrends Concept and how you can find and act on significant minitrends — trends that smaller firms can run with and medium to large companies can use to stay innovative by engaging their leadership’s and employees’ creativity and imagination.
Participants learn:
  • How and where to search for MiniTrends.
  • How to evaluate the business attractiveness of a MiniTrend.
  • How to develop an effective MiniTrend Strategy.
  • How to turn the strategy into profitable business opportunities…
  • RSVP Blue Button You should participate if you are:
    • A Corporate Intrapreneur seeking strategies to keep your organization on the cutting edge of business and technology.
    • An Entrepreneur wishing to identify, assess, and exploit attractive new business opportunities.
    • An Innovative Thinker interested in gaining recognition for originality and perceptiveness.
    • An Investor interested in uncovering attractive new investment opportunities.
    • A Job Seeker wishing to define emerging employment possibilities.
    Participants will recieve a solid basis for developing their own “MiniTrends Mindset.”
The session is based on John’s and Carrie’s experience in identifying and applying technical, social, and business trends and their award-winning book MINITRENDS: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit From Business & Technology Trends.
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 Tech Tools Webinar Host: BOSS-Talks’ Dr. Jan Triplett and Business Success Center provide ramp up assistance for new businesses and scaling for growing businesses.


MiniTrends’ ABJ Article – “Here’s how to stay on top of ‘minitrends’ and get ahead of the pack”

September 9, 2014


Austin Business Journal Article and Image – “Here’s how to stay on top of ‘minitrends’ and get ahead of the pack” by Dr. John Vanston and Carrie Vanston – Image from Austin Business Journal

Be sure to check out the Austin Business Journal article by Dr. John Vanston and Carrie Vanston entitled “Here’s how to stay on top of ‘minitrends’ and get ahead of the pack.” Find out how to stay on the forefront of emerging trends in your industry and quickly recognize and appreciate those trends and take advantage of them through action — and fast.

To find out even more about how you can do more with less, work smarter, not harder, game the system, and become that “Rock Star” you always hear about, attend MiniTrends 2014: Insight, Innovation & Strategy on Friday, September 26, in Austin, Texas.

Take advantage of  the special limited rate of just $150 for a full day including lunch and a “power hour” reception packed with top speakers like Bazaarvoice founder Brett Hurt, IBM Marketing Director Dr. Jani Byrne, world-renowned futurist David P. Snyder, award-winning author Dr. John Vanston, and USA TODAY’s Road Warrior of the Year Joyce Gioia — Use code “Special150-2014″ (until Sun Sept 21) or click here. Student rate also available.

A Special Price + 9 More Reasons You Should Be at MiniTrends 2014

September 5, 2014

MiniTrends 2014: Insight, Innovation & Strategy is coming to you on
Friday, September 26, in Austin, Texas. 

MiniTrends Community Special:  20% Off Discount

10 Reasons You Should Attend MiniTrends 2014: Insight, Innovation & Strategy

1. Insights for InnovationMiniTrends 2014 Keynote: David Pearce Snyder, Futurist

Insight: the ability to understand people and situations in a very clear way.

Becoming adept at discerning MiniTrends will first give you insights into innovation. This ability to understand people’s wants and needs, and the underlying causes of change will allow you to see how to achieve a high return on effort, essentially letting you see a path of doing more with less and in turn working smarter not harder.

  • Examine the predictable forces that are reshaping our business and technology environment.
  • Learn 20 knowable future trends that you must be prepared for.
  • Understand how the MiniTrends Concept can be key for continuing success.
  • Use this foundational foresight to build an innovation thought-process and strategy throughout the conference day.

2. Innovation Skills

Innovation: the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods.MiniTrends 2014 Keynote, Brett Hurt, Bazaarvoice Founder

With these new insights on possible innovations, you can begin to act on and process these new ideas in the development of new products or methodologies, thus allowing you to get an unfair competitive advantage or as VCs like to say, “game the system.”

  • Discover seven approaches for identifying minitrends.
  • Learn eight resources to find where minitrends hide.
  • Appreciate the vital role of leadership in promoting an innovation culture where employee creativity becomes the innovative “heart” of the organization.
  • See how appreciating all stakeholders, not just stockholders, is the “secret sauce” of success.
  • Find and share minitrends of your own with fellow attendees.

3. Innovation Strategy

MiniTrends 2014 Keynote, Dr. John H. VanstonStrategy: the skill of making or carrying out plans to achieve a goal.

Finally, by combining these new, undiscovered insights with derived innovations, you can increase your acumen in making or carrying out plans of action to achieve your new strategic goals.  In other words, by attending MiniTrends 2014 you can become that “Rock Star” everyone talks about!

  • Accelerate your innovation and process development.
  • Find the exogenous drivers and constraints that can help with decision making.
  • Leverage minitrends in market strategy development.
  • Use minitrends in making a market for a new product or service.
  • Benefit from personal interaction with conference speakers during special session.
  • Bring back ideas and strategies for you and your team.

4. Direct Interaction with Speakers and Expert Panelists

MiniTrends 2014 Speaker, Joyce Gioia

MiniTrends 2014 Speaker -- Jani-Byrne, Director of Mktg, Cloud, IBMAll-star visionaries and thought-leaders will give you the insight and tools you need to stay ahead of the curve and remain innovative in a rapidly changing business environment.Speak directly with the speakers about your own personal interests and ideas during a scheduled session just for this purpose.

MiniTrends 2014 Speakers

5. Individual and Small Group Hands-On Exercises

Individual and group activities at MiniTrends 2014 will help you generate ideas, consider their potential as minitrends, develop partnerships, and leave with actionable plans.

6. Great Networking Opportunities

Meet, mingle, network, and share ideas with marketers, analysts, development managers, strategists, research managers, and others during continental breakfast, breakout groups, breaks, discussions, provided lunch, and the MiniTrends 2014 “power-hour” reception overlooking beautiful Lady Bird Lake.

See what all the excitement is about! Watch the video or visit our testimonial page and find out what our past MiniTrends Conference say!!


7. FREE copy of Award-Winning MINITRENDS book

—Your Own MiniTrends ResourceMINITRENDS: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit From Business & Technology Trends by Dr. John H. Vanston with Carrie Vanston

As a special value add, you will receive your very own description of the MiniTrends Concept to take home—the award-winning book MINITRENDS: How Entrepreneurs & Innovators Discover & Profit From Business & Technology Trends by Dr. John Vanston and Carrie Vanston.

A $19.95 value!

8. Meet our Sponsors and Partners

We appreciate our Sponsors and Partners who share our vision of helping business leaders thrive by combining foresight with a creative culture honoring all stakeholders.

MiniTrends 2014 Sponsors and Partners

9. Enjoy Tech-Friendly and Beautiful Austin, Texas!

Austin is a thriving, cosmopolitan city and one of the leading high-tech hubs in the U.S. With more than 120,000 people employed by more than 4,400 technology firms, we have the techies, the entrepreneurs, the innovators, the investors, and so much more. And we’re the Live Music Capital of the World! What better place for a cutting-edge innovation conference?

Our MiniTrends 2014 meeting and reception overlooks beautiful Lady Bird Lake. The Holiday Inn Austin Lady Bird Lake (800-593-5676) is in a wonderful location to experience Austin’s major attractions. The hotel has direct access to the lake’s hike & bike trails and is a mile from Austin’s famous 6th Street entertainment district.

10. Special 20% Off Discount for Our MiniTrends Community!

Discount Code: Special20-2013  brings the regular price to $292  or Small business/Government/Academia to  $208.  Students still can come for $65. (Please register as soon as possible so we can have accurate catering numbers for the hotel!)

Join us at MiniTrends 2014: Insights, Innovation & Strategy on Friday, September 26, 2014, 8:30 am–5:30 pm, followed by reception. The full day conference includes continental breakfast, lunch, and evening “Power-Hour” reception. Attend this important event to insure you and your company remain successful and profitable in a constantly changing world.

Take Advantage of MiniTrends Community Special 20% Off Discount

MiniTrends 2014 Special Rate: Special150-2014

Please feel free to let your friends, colleagues and social networks know about this valuable offer!

Contact TFI at or (512) 258-8898 or visit Minitrends 2014 for more information.


Meet John & Carrie at WorldFuture 2014 in Orlando

June 17, 2014

WorldFuture 2014, July 11-13, Orlando, FLMiniTrends’ leaders Dr. John Vanston and Carrie Vanston are excited to be conducting a day-long Pre-Conference Master Course at the World Future Society’s annual conference WorldFuture 2014: What If? Our Master Course, MiniTrends and Macro-Change: Turbo-Charging Your Future, also includes our co-presenter and long-time partner, the highly-esteemed futurist David Pearce Snyder and will be held on Thursday, July 10 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Mintirends Keynote Speaker: David Pearce Snyder, Futurist and Contributing Editor, The FuturistThis inspring day begins with David describing the changing world and the forces driving it. He helps you see the future through a matrix of many emerging trends – MiniTrends – that reflect the macro-changes that you must anticipate to be successful as the future unfolds.

Dr. John Vanston, Author, MINITRENDS, Carrie Vanston, Co-Author, MINITRENDS

Dr. John Vanston & Carrie Vanston
presenting Pre-Conference
Master Course at WorldFuture 2014

John and Carrie, authors of the award-winning book MINITRENDS: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit From Business & Technology Trends, then provide you with the foundation for a strong MiniTrends process with seven ways for you to find, analyze, and profit from important minitrends and their potential business opportunities.

Participants will leave this course with an understanding of:

  • How predictable forces are rapidly reshaping our demography, economic structure, productive technologies, and decision-making processes.
  • How monitoring these forces can enable participants to identify and profit from emerging trends and attractive business opportunities.
  • How participants can apply the information, ideas, and insights presented in this course to guide their business, cause-related, personal, and investment decisions.

We hope you will join us in Orlando for WorldFuture 2014: What If? and our Pre-Conference Master Course: MiniTrends and Macro-Change: Turbo-Charging Your Future.

WorldFuture 2013: Master Course: Succeeding in a New Normal World – July 19, Chicago

July 12, 2013

World Future 2013, World Future Society Conference, Chicago, IL

Join us for our Pre-Conference Master Course: Succeeding in a New Normal World on July 19 with David Pearce Snyder, Dr. John Vanston, and Carrie Vanston

The World Future Society’s annual conference WorldFuture 2013: Exploring the Next Horizon brings together the world’s premier minds to discuss the long-range future of science, technology, humanity, government, religion and many other topics.

MiniTrends’ leaders Dr. John Vanston and Carrie Vanston are co-presenting with top futurist David Snyder at the Pre-Conference Master Course: Succeeding in a New Normal World on July 19, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 pm. (The additional fee is $245.)

This session describes the New Normal, the forces driving it, and how you can use the MiniTrends Concept to discover and profit from emerging trends within these forces. These minitrends offer opportunities to be successful personally and professionally, while making a postive difference in this changing world.

The session increases understanding of the principles and practices covered and  allows participants to take advantage of the experiences and insights of the group.

Highlights: What Attendees Will Learn from this Session:

  • How forces are predictably reshaping our demography, economic structure, technology advances, and decision-making processes.
  • How these forces can assist participants in identifying and taking advantage of emerging trends and attractive business opportunities.
  • How participants can apply the information, ideas, and insights presented in the class as guidance for business, personal career, and investment decisions.


Mintirends Keynote Speaker: David Pearce Snyder, Futurist and Contributing Editor, The FuturistDavid Pearce Snyder
Consulting Futurist;

The Snyder Family Enterprise
Contributing Editor, The Futurist
Dr. John VanstonDr. John Vanston
Chairman, Technology Futures, Inc.
Conference Chair, MiniTrends 2013The Integration of Profit & Social Responsibility
Author, MINITRENDS: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit From Business & Technology Trends

Carrie Vanston
Media & Mktg Director, Technology Futures, Inc.
Conference Director: MiniTrends 2013: The Integration of Profit & Social Responsibility

Co-Author, MINITRENDS: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit From Business & Technology Trends


We hope you will join us in attending
WorldFuture 2013: Exploring the Next Horizon and signing up for our Pre-Conference Master Course: Succeeding in a New Normal World.


Free MiniTrends RISE Conference Session – Austin, TX, Tues., May 14, 4-5:30 pm

May 10, 2013

RISE Austin Un-Conference

RISE Conference 

Presents a free session with

Dr. John H. Vanston
Carrie Vanston 

MiniTrends: How to Discover & Profit From Business & TechnologyTrends

Tuesday, May 14, 2012, 4:00 – 5:30 pm
Lake Creek Office Park Meeting Room, 13740 Research Blvd., Austin, Texas 78750

Sign Up Now!

In this presentation, award winning author Dr. John H. Vanston, Chairman, and Carrie Vanston, Marketing Director, Technology Futures, Inc. discuss MiniTrends — the concept that helps you find and act on great ideas by inspiring a creative mindset and providing a practical process for discovering and exploiting emerging trends that will become significantly important within 2-5 years.

Attendees learn and practice:

  • How and where to search for MiniTrends.
  • How to evaluate the business attractiveness of a MiniTrend.
  • How to develop an effective MiniTrend Exploitation Scheme.
  • How to turn the scheme into a profitable business opportunity.

You should attend if you are:

  • An Entrepreneur wishing to identify, assess, and exploit attractive new business opportunities.
  • An Executive, Director, Manager, or Professional seeking to take advantage of important emerging trends.
  • An Innovative Thinker interested in gaining recognition for originality and perceptiveness.
  • An Investor interested in uncovering attractive new investment opportunities.
  • A Job Seeker wishing to define emerging employment possibilities.

Participants will leave with a solid basis for developing their own “MiniTrends Mindset.”

MINITRENDS: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit From Business & Technology TrendsThe presentation is based on John’s more than 30 years of experience in identifying and applying technical, social, and business trends and the book MINITRENDS: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit From Business & Technology Trends authored by John and Carrie.

Sign Up for the RISE MiniTrends Session Now!

Directions: Go north on Hwy 183, take the Lake Creek Blvd. exit and do a u-turn under 183, go a short distance and turn right into the Lake Creek Office Complex (just past Chase bank). You will run directly into the meeting room building which is in the center of the complex. Meeting room entrance is on the left side of the building. (Note: there are 2-3 steps at the entrance of the building.)

Dr. John Vanston, Author, MINITRENDS, Carrie Vanston, Co-Author, MINITRENDS

RISE is a non-profit program whose cornerstone is its annual “un-conference” — scheduled May 13-17 this year — in which seasoned entrepreneurs and experts volunteer to host small-group sessions on any topic of their choice at any location of their choice throughout Austin. Sessions are free and limited to 25 to promote a highly collaborative experience.

MINITRENDS Wins Pinnacle Best Business Book Award

December 22, 2011

MINITRENDS book about emerging trends wins Pinnacle Book Acheiv

MINITRENDS wins Pinnacle Book Achievement Best Business Book Award by helping readers find new trends & business opportunities

Technology Futures, Inc. is pleased to announce that MINITRENDS: How Innovators & Entrepreneurs Discover & Profit From Business & Technology Trends by Dr. John H. Vanston with Carrie Vanston has won the Pinnacle Book Acheivement Best Business Book Award. This award is in addition to several earlier book awards received this year.

According to Dr. Vanston, “Many people will be starting the New Year with resolutions to achieve new goals. I am gratified with the attention MINITRENDS is receiving because I believe the book provides a path to make those goals a reality. The best way for individuals and businesses seeking to start new ventures or keep existing business innovative and competitive is to be constantly on the lookout for emerging trends that are not yet widely recognized. MINITRENDS helps people do just that by providing a mindset and process for initial idea generation and techniques to analyze and exploit these ideas.”

The best way for individuals and businesses seeking to start new ventures or keep existing business innovative and competitive is to be constantly on the lookout for emerging trends that are not yet widely recognized.

Based on Dr. Vanston’s more than 30 years of experience in identifying and applying technical, social, and business trends, MINITRENDS provides practical guidance to individuals and organizations of all sizes for extracting business opportunities from emerging trends that have a realistic chance of becoming profitable in the next 2-5 years. The book assists the reader in launching their own exciting, profitable “Minitrend Adventure” using their creativity, foresight, innovative nature, and basic good sense.

Additional accolades for MINITRENDS include an Eric Hoffer Business Book of the Year Award and finalist nods from ForeWord Reviews’ Business Book of the Year, USA Book News’ Entrepreneurship & Small Business Book of the Year, and Dan Poytner’s Global eBook Awards Business Book of the Year. Excellent endorsements and testimonials have also been received from top futurists Joseph Coates and David Pearce Snyder and many other opinion leaders and publications.

For more information on Minitrends, please visit the Minitrends Website or contact us by e-mail or (512) 258-8898.  (Click here to purchase book.)

For 33 years, TFI has helped organizations plan for the future by offering outstanding technology and telecommunications forecasting services and custom forecasts for key trends to high-technology and telecom organizations.

PRESS, MEDIA, BLOGGERS: Please contact Carrie Vanston at or (512) 258-8898 if you are interested in doing a Minitrends article, to request an interview with Dr. Vanston, or to request a review copy of MINITRENDS.

Nathan Myhrvold on Uncovering and Investing in Technology Trends

March 9, 2011

Alan Murray interviews Nathan Myhrvold at The Wall Street Journal's ECO:nomics Conference

The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray (left) interviews technology investor and former Microsoft chief technology officer, Nathan Myhrvold, at the ECO:nomics Conference. Click for video.

The Wall Street Journal recently concluded its fourth annual conference on environmental economics at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, California. Dubbed “ECO:nomics,” the Journal‘s invitation-only event offers a casual program of interviews and audience Q&A with corporate CEOs, venture capitalists, and government leaders.

Some of the technology trends revealed at this year’s conference include:

One of the highlights for those interested in Minitrends was Alan Murray’s interview with venture capitalist and former Microsoft chief technology officer, Nathan Myhrvold. The restless inventor shared the unique way in which his firm, Intellectual Ventures, invests in startups:

We invest in invention. Venture capitalists invest in companies…We try to invest in the actual idea…Someone will have already invented something; they won’t know what to do with it. We’ll take a controlling investment in that idea and maybe we can figure out what to do with it.

This is a different approach than most venture capitalists use: buying the technology rather than the organization. Myhrvold’s method of finding Minitrends is not so unique: “We’ll bring typically six to 10 people…in a room, and we’ll start brainstorming solutions…Usually, we come up with some solution, but often it’s not to the problem we posed. We then go through a process we call triage: Which of the ideas we generated are really worth pursuing?”

The triage process Myhrvold describes is similar to the vetting of Minitrends described in the book, MINITRENDS, by John and Carrie Vanston, a guide to identifying and exploiting business trends that are likely to bear fruit in two-to-five years.

The Wall Street Journal has been stingy making video or transcripts of the ECO:nomics conference available online. Such archives are usually fertile sources for Minitrends research. However, they have made one video segment with Nathan Myhrvold available, along with the newspaper’s “special report” coverage of ECO:nomics 2010 (PDF) and 2011 (website).

One final trend worth noting. Previously on this blog, we’ve mentioned the fashion trend that venture capitalists don’t wear neckties. It appears this year the trend has spread to CEOs. Virtually none of the CEOs speaking at the ECO:nomics conference wore ties, in contrast to just a few years ago, when the majority did. It seems the only holdouts in the necktie department are elected officials and other bureaucrats. Chief executives of the world, untie!

News Editor, Minitrends Blog

Source: “The Next Smart Thing,” The Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2011
Source: “Environmentalists spar over nuclear power,” MarketWatch, March 4, 2011
Source: “Ford Giving Up on EVs? Not Quite,” The Green Optimistic, March 7, 2011
Source: “Making Green Green,” Santa Barbara Independent, March 7, 2011
Image courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, used under fair use: commentary.

Accenture IT Report Encourages Businesses to Lose Control

February 22, 2011

Virtual realityIs your business ready to lose control? That appears to be the direction of enterprise computing, according to a new set of predictions just released by management consulting powerhouse, Accenture.

In the free report, Accenture Technology Vision 2011, Accenture’s information technology (IT) team, led by Kevin Campbell, chief executive of the company’s technology group, reviewed such sources as the subjects of keynote speeches at technology conferences, the types of projects receiving venture capital funding, and the predictions of well known IT experts. These sources are similar to those John and Carrie Vanston recommend consulting when analyzing the viability of trends in their book, MINITRENDS. The Accenture report arrives at a short list of eight trends that are transforming IT.

Accenture sees “a world of IT that barely resembles what enterprise computing looks like today,” according to Gavin Michael, Accenture’s managing director of research and development, as quoted by TMCnet reporter, Rajani Baburajan.  “IT is no longer in a support role. Instead, it is front and center driving business performance and enriching people’s lives like never before,” Michael said.

Accenture sees three major rivers running through its predictions:

  1. Greater Distribution of Data: “Data is dispersed across many more locations, and under the control of far more owners.”
  2. The Separation of Software and Hardware: “Technology today enables decoupling of entities and layers once deemed inseparable.”
  3. The Meteoric Rise of Analytics: “Analytics will become the super-tool with which to drive more agile and effective decision-making.”

You have to be something of a mindreader to parse the jargon of the report and glean the pearls of wisdom it contains, but they are there. Accenture sees decentralization at the core of technology trends, such as cloud computing, which we have frequently covered on this blog.

The report’s insight that IT security needs to move from a “fortress mentality” to a layered and distributed series of security checks is prescient, as is the awareness that greater automation in security and the ability of software to handle “noise” will improve results. Imagine how the technology behind IBM’s Watson (the new Jeopardy champion) will enable computers to understand natural language and anticipate security breaches instead of waiting for an attack.

The Accenture report, like most similar surveys, sees the rise of the social platform in enterprise computing. The website will no longer be the primary connection point between an organization and its constituents. Companies will have to set up shop where the consumer is — on sites such as Facebook and Netflix — rather than waiting for the consumer to come to them.

The report concludes with this powerful insight: The primary role of IT in the past has been to reduce an organization’s costs; in the future, it will be to enhance the user experience. The authors of the report foresee technology that goes beyond Apple Computer’s famously intuitive user experience to something that instantly and seamlessly shapes itself to the unique characteristics of the user.

Accenture’s vision is at once thrilling and unsettling. Organizations will have to move out of their bunkers, distributing their computing resources and allowing users to take control. Like a fast-paced, high-tech amusement ride, it’s going to be scary but enjoyable for those entities able to loosen up and cede control of their IT resources to the audiences they are charged with serving.

News Editor, Minitrends Blog

Source: “Accenture Technology Vision 2011” (PDF), Feb. 7, 2011
Source: “Accenture Maps Eight Trends That Will Drive Future of IT,” infoTech Spotlight, Feb. 9, 2011
Image by Mulad (Michael Hicks), used under its Creative Commons license.

A Longer Lifespan with Science and Work

December 10, 2010

MouseSince I was born, average life expectancy in the U.S. has increased by 10 years, from about 68 years to 78 years. In the next decade, it will increase by another 20 years, according to futurist Ray Kurzweil, who predicts that by the year 2019, the life expectancy of someone born in the U.S. will be over 100 years.

A celebrated M.I.T. scientist, Kurzweil has embarked upon a dietary regimen designed to improve his longevity to the point where “life expectancy is no longer a viable term in relation to intelligent beings.” Until recently, the dominant method of life extension has been calorie restriction. If you can cut your daily calories in half without impacting your vitality, studies show you will live considerably longer.

Last week, another breakthrough offered hope for an engineered end to aging. The forever elusive “fountain of youth” is now pumping out telomerase. Telomerase is an enzyme that keeps telomeres from unravelling. Ewen Calloway, a biotech writer for the journal Nature, which published this new Harvard study, explains the significance of telomeres:

Chromosomes have caps of repetitive DNA called telomeres at their ends. Every time cells divide, their telomeres shorten, which eventually prompts them to stop dividing and die. Telomerase prevents this decline in some kinds of cells, including stem cells, by lengthening telomeres…

In the Harvard study conducted by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, mice were genetically engineered with dormant telomerase, resulting in their rapid and premature aging. Feeding the mice a chemical called 4-OHT reactivated telomerase production, and the mice were remarkably restored to a normal age.

There is hope that telomerase could be used to stimulate the growth of neurons, restoring vitality to the worn-out brains and other organs. However, there’s a catch. Tiffany Kaiser at DailyTech delivers the bad news:

While this therapy is ideal for mice, it will be challenging to translate this type of treatment to humans because slowing the aging process this way could increase the risk of cancer in humans. Mice have the ability to create telomerase throughout the span of their lives, but telomerase eventually discontinues in humans in order to stop cells from overpopulating and possibly turning into cancerous cells.

The promise of the Harvard study is that it shows a reverse in aging, not just a halt to aging. The problem is that it did not extend the lives of the mice one bit; it merely returned them to a normal longevity. Kyle Munkittrick at Discover is also skeptical of the translation of this breakthrough to humans:

It still remains to be seen if telomerase treatments can delay normal aging, reverse normal aging, or extend life in any way in mice. From there scientists have to then figure out what side-effects there are, why those side-effects occur, and then somehow translate the results to human beings. [Emphasis his.]

Perhaps telomerase is not the wonder drug that will keep us alive indefinitely. But something is working to expand our life expectancy, and it might be work. In their new book, MINITRENDS, futurist John H. Vanston and his daughter, Carrie Vanston, note with some surprise that the one trait that links successful entrepreneurs is “exceptionally good health.” Which begs the question, which came first, the health or the work?

Jeannine Stein reports for the Los Angeles Times on a study funded by the National Institute on Aging into the effects of employment on the health of retirees:

The researchers coined the term ‘bridge employment’ to describe the transition period between full-time work and full-time retirement, in which people work part time, are self-employed or temporarily employed. Men and women in that bridge employment category reported fewer major diseases and functional limitations compared with those who were in full retirement.

John and Carrie Vanston devote a significant portion of MINITRENDS to exploring the business opportunities for entrepreneurs resulting from life extension. For some employers, it simply means a larger pool of relatively low-cost, experienced workers. Will other countries be insourcing their busy work to our senior citizens?

The Vanstons also see business opportunities in retooling older workers with modern skills. Already, many retirement homes are locating near universities or on college campuses, to give seniors ready access to both the classes and the culture available from the publicly-funded centers of learning.

As many of us face the prospects of living to be 100 years old, it is comforting to know that those later years can be profitably and pleasurably employed providing valuable services to others. Science will continue to improve our ability to work in our later years, and the exciting work of entrepreneurship will continue to keep us young!

News Editor, Minitrends Blog

Source: The Age of Spiritual Machines, by Ray Kurzweil, pp. 208, 280
Source: “Telomerase reverses ageing process,” Nature, 11/28/10
Source: “Harvard Scientists Reverse Signs of Aging in Mice,” DailyTech, 11/29/10
Source: “Another Tiny, Exciting Step Toward Life-Extension,” Discover, 11/29/10
Source: “Considering retirement? Working might keep you healthier,” Los Angeles Times, 11/14/10
Photo by be_khe (Giang Ho Thi Hoàng), used under its Creative Commons license.

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