An update to the $20,000 Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Challenge can be found at MIT Technology Review editor Jason Pontin's blog:
Contrary to Mr. Bartlett's story, we have received a number of interesting responses to the challenge - and a group of biologists is, I know, preparing a large, detailed critique of SENS. We still lack a review panel, however, who will review the critiques.
Good to hear that progress is being made; we all win when the research community comes forth to engage in scientific debate on the points, merits and problems of SENS - as it has largely avoided doing to date. Open, honest debate is how we move forward in the process of gaining support for the development of real, working anti-aging medicine - by putting more minds to work on developing the best possible selection of paths forward and persuading more scientists and funding organizations to get the research done.
Pontin also makes a helpful clarification to the SENS Challenge rules:
The full text of any critique can be of any number of words, but any submission should include an abstract of 750 words. In fact, that had always been the spirit of the Challenge ("The form of the submission must be a core document of no more than 750 words, although additional footnotes, citations, and references can be of any length"), but I was perhaps less than clear in my expression.
A substantiative critique of SENS on merits and points of science is exactly the sort of step forward that this challenge is designed to elicit if it is in fact met. Having researchers discussing SENS on the record allows advocates of directed healthy life extension research the open scientific debate they want. The desired end result is a clear, rapid path to working anti-aging medicine that is supported by a large portion of the scientific community, whether it be SENS, a revised version of SENS, or something completely different.