Mouse Lifespan Study Crowdfunding Success

Reseachers and advocates associated with Heales and the International Longevity Alliance successfully crowdfunded a modest mouse life span study via Indiegogo. It's worth looking at how they went about structuring the research (a short term project using old mice, which benefited from having a group of suitably aged mice to hand now) and managing publicity. Now if we could just manage the same sort of outcome for a range of more ambitious SENS-related mini-projects in rejuvenation research rather than combinatorial drug tests for slowing aging...

Here, we step on the shoulders of giants : by contributing you can help us test a combination of drugs shown to extend healthy lifespan in mice. The largest life extension in mice so far resulted from a similar effort, where one mouse lived very close to 5 years (mice usually live 2-3 years)! The result should be key to to optimally search for additional years of healthy life.

This experiment has something unique. It is the first time in the world that crowdfunding is used to test a combination of the most potent nongenetic-interventions known to extend the lifespan. The results will help in the search for life prolonging treatments for both animals and humans. Analogous experiments have hardly been done in mammals and have usually been done only for the immediate short-term effects, without checking the effects on the animal's entire lifespan. For these reasons in many cases you never know for sure whether the drugs you take shorten your lifespan or make you live longer and healthier.

There are *right now* in the lab a sufficient number of aged mice (~20 months old) - male and female - which belong to the C57Bl6 strain to start a lifespan test. The mice will be divided into 2 test groups (females and males) and 2 control groups (24 animals per each group). The test will be blind.

The food of the treated mice will contain: 1) An α-adrenergetic receptor blocker (metoprolol). Potential action: Prevents too fast heart beats. 2) An mTOR inhibitor (everolimus, similar action as rapamycin). Potential action: Puts cells in an active and resistant mode. 3) Metformin. Potential action: Normalizes blood and IGF-1 values at low levels. It also has potential similarities with everolimus. 4) Simvastatin. Action: Decreases the amount of LDL cholesterol (considered as 'bad' by some) in the blood. 5) Ramipril: an ACE inhibitor. Action: Prevents hypertension. 6) Aspirin. When small doses are used, it is believed to have reduced side effects while improving blood flow and therefore reducing cardiovascular risks, and potentially also preventing incidence of some cancers.

Link: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/i-am-a-little-mouse-and-i-want-to-live-longer

Comments

Just came to this comment via the hyperlink from your January 2015 update post about this.

I can see how it would currently be hard to replicate this with a range of SENS mini projects. By using existing drugs already known to act on certain molecular targets in vivo, this group just has to pay for the testing. Any SENS mini project would start with developing the necessary technology "drug" first, and often with projects to create tools (a) tools to determine whether the necessary technology "drug" has actually been created (have we created a pure form of X?) (b) models (tools) to test the technology on (e.g. have we created a line of cells deficient in mitochondrial gene Y?) (c) tools to determine is the technology getting delivered to where we think is necessary (d) tools to measure the effect the technology is having on a particular target (e.g. is the drug removing crosslinks in the extra cellular matrix?).

I don't know enough to know if the above is even a fraction of the actual list for developing a rejuvenation biotechnology to the point where it can be tested. But even if a project is 21 or 50 mini projects, perhaps it would still be beneficial to stick them up and try to kickstart them individually. If only for the psychological reason that humans find a more specific target or goal more interesting than a nebulous one.

Raising 5 million dollars to develop allotopic expression of mitochondrial genes might be easier as 100 $50,000 kickstarter projects rather than just asking for years for 5 million dollars by repeating the end goal?

Also is the size of the kickstarter important? I notice that the labcures website hasn't really raised much for each of its quarter of a million dollar projects.

Another issue is whether it is even worth starting a project if you don't have funding for the entire project? I imagine with buying equipment this isn't a problem, but for example there wouldn't be any point administering a treatment to say a group of Rhesus monkeys if you didn't have the funds to measure the effects on biomarkers in 6 months time. Maybe labs could just do kickstarters for equipment and other non perishables?

Add to that the risk that a researcher actually breaks down a project into this level of detail, then gets no extra money for their effort, or the project ends up being more expensive than expected and they've now alienated part of their support base.

The one advantage of funding SENS style projects is that everyone should benefit personally in an incredibly powerful way one day, they are not just public goods. But there are problems with the long indefinite time to eventual delivery, and doubt that the projects are even possible (plenty of naysaying scientists out there).

Posted by: Jim at January 1st, 2015 8:07 PM

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