As we inch our way into 2010, let me point out a worthwhile fundraising project that I think you should strongly consider help to achieve its goals. Last year a few earnest folk started and publicized a Facebook Cause, a group pledge that aims to gather 10,000 members in support of the longevity research carried out by the SENS Foundation. This research aims to reverse critical biochemical changes that cause age-related degeneration, frailty, and disease, and thereby eliminate suffering and restore the aged to health:
SENS Foundation would like to draw your attention to an exciting initiative organised by a group of our supporters. The 10,000 people, $1 million to defeat aging Cause on Facebook asks each member to pledge just $100, which becomes payable once a total of 10,000 individuals have made the same pledge.
Those 10,000 donations will provide SENS Foundation with $1 million of additional funding, which will support our critical research into defeating the diseases and disabilities of aging. Over the course of 2010 we intend to increase funding to our LysoSENS program and ramp up work on MitoSENS, as well as continuing to pursue our work on atherosclerosis, immunosenescence, and macular degeneration.
I am impressed to note that the Cause has assembled more than 1600 pledges to donate $100, which I think shows that the stated goal of 10,000 supporters is viable and plausible. Achieving this end is within the capabilities of our extended community - those who support more research into extending healthy life spans, support reversing the effects of aging, and who have proven adept at persuading others to this viewpoint. Further, I agree completely with the Cause founders' reasons for fundraising for the SENS Foundation:
Since we believe SENS to be the only feasible set of strategies that could defeat age related disease and disability within our lifetime, funding SENS research is the best possible use of the donations our cause page will raise.
When it comes down to it, there are two horses we could back in modern longevity science. There are researchers who seek to change the operation of metabolism in order to slow down aging by slowing the rate at which damage occurs, and there are researchers who seek to reverse aging by repairing that biochemical damage caused by metabolism. If you look back in the Fight Aging! archives, you'll find that I explain why this is a very significant difference, and why we should support attempts to reverse aging over attempts to merely slow aging. In essence:
[Changing human metabolism to slow aging] does next to nothing for people who are already age-damaged to the point of disease and frailty.
[In addition], it is likely to be easier and less costly to produce rejuvenation therapies [to reverse aging] than to produce a reliable and significant slowing of aging. A rejuvenation therapy doesn't require a whole new metabolism to be engineered, tested, and understood - it requires that we revert clearly identified changes to return to a metabolic model that we know works, as it's used by a few billion young people already.
Those rejuvenation therapies will be far more effective than slowing aging in terms of additional years gained, since you can keep coming back to use them again and again. They will also help the aged, who are not helped at all by a therapy that merely slows aging.
But for a variety of poor reasons, today we find that attempts to change human metabolism to merely slow aging are the dominant paradigm for large scale funding of longevity research. If we want to live to see greatly extended healthy lives, and the frailties of aging repaired, then this state of affairs must be changed. That change starts right here, by deciding to support the better approach to engineering human longevity: repairing the damage of aging, and thereby reversing aging.