LysoSENS researcher John Schloendorn signed up as the 98th member of The Three Hundred today - welcome aboard! The Three Hundred is an association of generous folk of modest means, joining together in support of the best present day effort to encourage meaningful anti-aging research:
What's it worth to you to live 150 healthy years? What's it worth to you to raise the average human life span to 150 years, just for a starter? These are not idle questions.
We're looking for a few special individuals and organizations to make a meaningful, but affordable commitment: $1,000 a year, for 25 years, which amounts to $85 a month or $2.75 a day, the equivalent of one visit to Starbucks.
Our model is a classical one. It's based on another battle that saved the future of Western Civilization: Thermopylae. In 480 B.C., 300 Spartan warriors fought against incredible odds, so that the rest of Greece could mobilize against Darius's Persian hordes. Without their delaying action at the narrow pass of Thermopylae, the achievements of Greece and our culture as we know it would have been swept away.
The Methuselah Foundation is asking you to follow in the footsteps of this noble Three Hundred, not to risk your lives, but to provide some of your treasure, so that others may live ... and live ... and live, so that the human species can beat back not just an army, but the Grim Reaper himself.
This special group - strictly limited to 300 individuals or organizations - will live on in history just as the original 300 have, even to this day. You can be one of them.
We folk of ordinary means can band together to become philanthropists of note, changing the world for the better by funding the MPrize for anti-aging research. What price a future in which the old can live without pain, without disease, without frailty - in health and vigor? In each year that passes without the technologies of healthy life extension, tens of millions die due to aging. Hundreds of millions of others suffer age-related disease.
Just as for other research prizes, every dollar in the MPrize fund will inspire many more dollars in funding for biomedical anti-aging science from other sources. These first years of the 21st century are as a auspicious time as you will ever see to start the first pebbles of this avalanche. We stand at a tipping point of public support and awareness of a future of extended healthy life spans - and folk like you and I can help to kick-start real, significant progress:
The M Prize has the potential to remove the stumbling blocks preventing scientists in government and industry from taking on the aging process as a curable disease. On the one hand, it reorients the incentives for industry. Right now, there is no specific incentive for private researchers to perform lifespan studies in mice: at most, they are a stepping stone toward long, expensive, human trials - and as noted, even the rodent studies are long and expensive. When a significant financial reward - and the promise of substantial publicity - is put in place, however, suddenly there is a business case for spending a few years rather than a few months in testing a compound in mice. Should you succeed in rejuvenating mice, you can bet that Big Pharma will be beating down your door for the rights to translate the intervention to the human case.
The M Prize can dislodge the vicious circle that drives the lack of serious anti-aging biogerontology in academic research. For the scientists, it creates an incentive to write those grant proposals, in hopes of obtaining more funding directly and greater prestige for their institutions - prestige itself tends to attract more funding. On the side of public opinion, the Prize structure, by its nature, captures public imagination and provides a dramatic way to educate the public and media that scientists are working on extending healthy lifespan in mammals. This increases the credibility of any similar reputable efforts and wins acceptance for the idea that it can be done in humans. In turn, changes in public opinion eases political constraints on awarding public funding for such projects - and may even lead to active pressure to make such awards.
The real tipping point, however, comes when aging is demonstrably reversed in an elderly mouse. Aside from the obvious point that success in mice implies a parallel success in humans with adequate further research, it may initiate a sea change in public opinion as people allow themselves to believe that aging could be cured in humans. I envisage this leading to a public and political demand for a War on Aging. At this point, the whole field of serious anti-aging research will become scientifically respectable. It will attract scientists and funding; this will further fuels the expectations of the public and pressure for public and private funding.
One of us will be the 100th member of The Three Hundred - perhaps it will be you. The future is, after all, in your hands.