An Introduction to Open Cures at h+ Magazine

I recently wrote an article that introduces the Open Cures initiative and explains the backdrop of medical research and regulation that makes Open Cures - or something very much like it - absolutely necessary. The piece is presently published at h+ Magazine:

You may recognize me as the author-slash-editor of Fight Aging!, a long-running news and advocacy site focused on progress towards reversal of aging and engineering longer human lives. There is more to progress in the general sense than just the underlying science, however, and with that in mind I recently announced the launch of Open Cures, a volunteer initiative with the aim of greatly speeding up the development of clinical applications of longevity science. Participation is open to anyone who can help with the goals listed in the Open Cures roadmap: for example, we're presently looking for life science writers and people familiar with the medical tourism industry, amongst others.

But why, in this age of biotechnology and accelerating progress, it is even necessary to build an organization to help speed matters along? What is the roadblock that stands in the way of the clinical development of longevity-enhancing biotechnology?

I encourage you to read it all: it's a fairly concise outline as to why developing the scientific tools of rejuvenation is not enough in and of itself to win the game. We also have to ensure that clear paths exist for commercial development of legitimate treatments for aging - which is far from the case today:

Aging is not a disease, per the FDA - and therefore, no one is legally permitted to treat aging in humans with biotechnology in the US.

A fair number of well funded groups have been burning money and time in well-thought, well-connected efforts to change the FDA: to make it less hostile to progress, to enable therapies to come to market more rapidly (or in some cases at all). This has been going on for years - see FasterCures, for example - but has come to nothing. Changing the FDA is not the way forward: instead we need to work around it - and that is the Open Cures methodology:

Open Cures is a young volunteer initiative, formed in mid-2011 to work upon a grand long term vision: to orchestrate the clinical development of therapies already demonstrated to either extend life or reverse narrow aspects of aging in mice, and which may be capable of doing the same for humans. A dozen or more such biotechnologies presently languish with little effort devoted to their clinical development, because regulatory bodies such as the FDA forbid treatments for aging.

The following roadmap outlines a series of overlapping phases of development by which Open Cures volunteers can change this present environment and its hostility to the development of effective therapies to treat degenerative aging. The Open Cures vision is of a bridge built between the undeveloped biotechnologies of rejuvenation produced in US and European laboratories and the overseas developers who could usher these technologies into the clinic for human trials.

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