I'm pleased to note that the latest Longecity crowdfunding initiative has met its goal: $7,000 raised from the community and a further $14,000 provided by Longecity will go towards a mitochondrial gene therapy research project carried out by SENS Research Foundation staff. One of the wonders of our modern age is that meaningful life science research at the cutting edge is now so very cheap: things that would have required a fully staffed laboratory and tens of millions of dollars twenty years ago can be now be accomplished by a single researcher with $20,000 to spend. This new state of affairs is reflected in the pace of progress in medical research.
Mitochondria, the power plants of the cell, contain their own DNA. Unlike the nucleus, mitochondria lack an efficient system to repair damaged DNA, and this damage accumulates over time. As we age, these accumulated mutations result in an increase in oxidative stress throughout the body. It is no coincidence that organisms which age more slowly consistently display lower rates of mitochondrial free radical damage. Reversing and/or preventing damage to mitochondrial DNA may be a key factor in slowing the aging process. In this project, engineered mitochondrial genes will be used to restore function to cells that contain defective mitochondrial genes.
There is a good discussion of the research and its details going on in the project Q&A thread. You should take a look: this is the model for the future of a great deal of research funding, in which enthusiasts in the public fund the work they want to see accomplished, talking directly with the scientists who carry out this research. Openness, transparency, and continuous communication are powerful tools. The Longecity folk are justifiably pleased at another addition to their fundraising record:
Congratulations everyone. Once again LongeCity/Imminst has reached the fundraising goal of $7,000. This will now be matched with a $14,000 grant and the research can begin. In case you were not counting, our organization still has a 100% success rate of funding life extension research. Every fundraising goal for the last 5 years has been met or exceeded.
More of this will be welcome, and I expect to see more of this in the years ahead as the community grows, side by side with growth in traditional forms of funding for SENS and SENS-like rejuvenation research.