Talking About Timelines for SENS Research

An article on the work of Aubrey de Grey and the SENS Foundation: "In the simplest of terms, SENS is about combating ageing, which according to de Grey is in essence, damage on the molecular and cellular levels caused by the metabolism. The SENS model breaks aging down to 7 major classes of damage; cancer-causing nuclear mutations, Mitochondrial mutations, intracellular junk, extracellular junk, cell loss and atrophy, cell senescence and extracellular crosslinks. ... In the SENS Foundation research center we currently focus on two major projects. Two of our senior postdoctoral fellows are working on a project to make mitochondrial mutations harmless, by putting modified copies of the mitochondrion's DNA into the cell nucleus. Mitochondrial mutations are one of the seven key types of damage that are described in SENS, and this is the most complete way to address it. ... The second project which is currently pursued by another senior postdoc in de Grey's staff deals with the accumulation of molecular 'garbage' which de Grey says our bodies are not built to dispose of. ... back in 2006, de Grey outlined the SENS research being conducted and was received with positive reviews from the attendees. Back then, de Grey predicted that with this research, if enough funding and attention was drawn to it, could see direct benefits being applied to people alive today. He believes the first human to reach the age of 300, if given the treatment before ageing does too much damage, may have already been born. The first human to live to a thousand would only be a decade younger. Unfortunately, the economic crisis plaguing a large portion of the globe means funding for research becomes tighter and tighter. De Grey remains optimistic however, as he believes that 'the financial crisis has probably slowed things down a little, but not massively.' ... I think 20 years is optimistic, but I still think we have a 50 percent chance of getting there within 25 years. However, that all assumes that we make rapid progress in persuading the public, especially wealthy people, that this is a really important mission. Our research is indeed going really well. It's still at an early stage, that's for sure, but we're making progress all the time. Also, I should mention that we're focusing on the very hardest parts of SENS; there are easier parts, already being pursued by others, and those are going extremely well too."



The fact that rejuvenation in mice seems to have been ten years away for around eight years now does not fill me with confidence. I understand of course that those estimates were for a scenario in which SENS had been adequately funded, and that it hasn't come remotely close. All the same, I would think the estimate would have been revised somewhat by now, even based on the work of labs other than those funded by SENS Foundation. Are we literally no closer to success than we were almost a decade ago?

Forget pie in the sky stuff. I want to know how far we are from actually achieving our goals given that funding is likely to continue to be inadequate. Fifteen years? Twenty? Fifty?

Posted by: Ben at October 31st, 2011 2:52 PM

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