Cure aging or die trying indeed - that is exactly the position in which we all find ourselves. The development of longevity science is a race, and not the good kind of race either; more the sort of race wherein a horror in the darkness is snorting behind you, and the consequences of failure are dire indeed. Worse, most of those running alongside you are oblivious to the beast that follows, and will not be woken from their daze. But this race we all win together, or we all lose, picked off one by one. There is no middle ground.
At the Sierra Sciences website you'll find an audio presentation from an anti-aging conference last year (I should note that I don't have a high opinion of such events, in which the frauds, potion-sellers, and scum far outnumber any serious presentations), and an update for 2010 on their work:
Sierra Sciences, LLC is a company devoted to finding ways to extend our healthspans and lifespans beyond the theoretical maximum of 125 years.
Scientific research has shown that this theoretical maximum is limited because of the length of our telomeres which shorten as we get older. Our reproductive cells don’t experience this shortening, and thus don’t age, because they contain an enzyme called telomerase that re-lengthens the telomeres as they shorten. Sierra Sciences is searching for pharmaceuticals that will induce the production of telomerase in all our cells.
On November 6th, 2007 Sierra Sciences found its first telomerase inducing chemical; called C0057684. This chemical is the first ever discovered that activates the telomerase gene without killing the cells. Efforts are presently underway to learn everything possible about C0057684. But, in addition, C0057684 has provided Sierra Sciences with the first positive control ever for detection of telomerase gene activity in normal human cells. This has served as a very powerful tool for the development of robust high throughput screening assays for finding additional telomerase inducing chemicals. As such, in the last year Sierra Sciences has discovered an additional 62 chemicals that activate the telomerase gene. This now enables the scientists at Sierra Sciences to design better chemicals with increased potency and specificity. Additional screening for even more chemicals is also underway.
We have screened 186,704 compounds. We have found 555 telomerase inducers. These represent 33 distinct drug families. Most potent compound = 6% of goal. We are screening 4,000 compounds per week.
I have written on Sierra Sciences in the past. You might stroll back into the archives to see what I had to say. In general I'm not sold on the theory that telomere length is in fact a limit upon life span, versus it being a secondary marker for the progression of numerous other processes that limit life span. Maybe it is a strongly contributing root cause of aging, maybe it isn't - but there are only two ways to find out for sure. Firstly, more research, and secondly try the telomere lengthening and see what happens. If the fastest path to a confident resolution for this uncertainty is accomplished by initiatives like Sierra Sciences, then more power to them.