The Methuselah Foundation, home of the MPrize for anti-aging research, is offering a new way for people like you and I to contribute to healthy life extension science. On the MPrize donation page, the latest option allows you to donate to LysoSENS or other SENS research.
What is LysoSENS? This is the first Methuselah Foundation funded research program to deal directly with removing age-related damage - in the form of accumulated lysosomal junk - from within cells, based on Aubrey de Grey's Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS). Hence the name, LysoSENS.
Cells have a lot of reasons to break down big molecules and structures into their component parts, and a lot of ways to do so. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons to break things down is because they have been chemically modified so that they no longer work, and sometimes these chemical modifications create structures that are so weird that none of the cell's degradation machinery works on them. This is very rare, but in the long run it adds up. The place where it adds up is called the lysosome, a special vessel that contains the most powerful degradation machinery in the cell; if something can't even be broken down there, it just stays there forever. This doesn't matter in cells that divide regularly, because division dilutes the junk away, but non-dividing cells gradually fill up with this stuff -- different types of stuff in different types of cell. The heart, the back of the eye, some nerve cells (especially motor neurons) and, most of all, white blood cells trapped within the artery wall all suffer from this. Eventually these cells can't take any more and they stop working right. This is the sole cause of atherosclerosis (the formation of lumps, called plaques, in the artery wall, which eventually burst and cause heart attacks and strokes). It is also important in several types of neurodegeneration and in macular degeneration (the main cause of blindness in the old). So it's very important to fix it.
Progress has already been made in the identification of bacterial enzymes that could do the job, but as de Grey notes: "We need a lot more work on this project. It will take time to find the right enzymes in the soil microorganisms, to find the ones that work well in mammalian cells and are not toxic, to modify them so that the cell knows how to target them to the lysosome, and so on. This is a project that is very 'parallelisable' - if lots and lots of laboratories work on it, it will succeed sooner."
If you find that funding research prizes for scientific achievement is not your cup of tea, I would hope that this direct funding of real anti-aging research is more to your taste. Please consider a donation to advance progress for a presently underappreciated pillar of SENS; just as for the MPrize, now grown to $3 million in cash and pledges thanks to many generous donors, every dollar and voice raised in support counts for a great deal.