Methuselah Foundation Announces Award to Dr. Huber Warner

The Methuselah Foundation occasionally makes awards to researchers who are doing more than others to advance aging research. In this case it is the Interventions Testing Program that is being rewarded, a rigorous effort that is serving to remove the uncertainty over which of the existing ways thought to slow aging in mice actually work. Many past studies were flawed, or didn't use enough mice for statistical certainty, or were compromised by inadvertent calorie restriction.

This is all quite important for gaining a better understanding of the details as to how aging progresses, and for researchers who are trying to build treatments that alter metabolism to slow aging, but it is probably of less scientific relevance to rejuvenation research based on repair of cellular and molecular damage. The whole point of the latter field is that it doesn't require a full understanding of the progression of aging or alteration of the operation of metabolism in order to achieve significant reversal of aging and age-related disease. But beyond the science there is the ever illogical world of politics and funding, where success in carrying out an initiative like the ITP can translate into more attention and a better fundraising environment for all efforts relating to enhancing human longevity.

Methuselah Foundation, a medical charity focused on advancing the field of regenerative medicine to extend healthy life, is pleased to announce the Award of the Methuselah Prize to Dr. Huber Warner at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Aging Association. This $10,000 award is being given to recognize Dr. Warner's founding of the National Institute on Aging's Intervention Testing Program (ITP), a "multi-institutional study investigating treatments with the potential to extend lifespan and delay disease and dysfunction in mice."

According to Kevin Perrott, Executive Director of the Methuselah Prize, "The vision Dr. Warner showed, and his persistence over years of resistance to establish the ITP, is truly worthy of recognition. This program is going to provide not only potential near-term interventions in the aging process, but hard data to support claims of health benefits in a statistically significant manner. Science needs solid foundations on which to base further investigations, and the ITP provides the highest level of confidence yet established."

"I saw lots of papers from grantees of the NIA about slowing down aging and extending lifespan, but they were rarely backed up and given credibility through testing," said Dr. Warner. "Research over the last 25 years has been characterized by great success in identifying genes that play some role in extending the late-life health and longevity of several useful animal models of aging, such as yeast, fruit flies, and mice. The next challenging step is to demonstrate how this information might be used to increase the health of older members of our human populations around the world as they age."

The Intervention Testing Program also seeks to demonstrate the legitimacy of utilizing scarce government funding for life extension research. The program has already achieved an early success in proving that the immunosuppressant drug, Rapamycin, extends maximum lifespan in mice.



Here's the brief comments given as the Award was presented:

In the fight against Polio - that slayer and maimer of innocent youth - all persons applaud and honor the contributions of Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin. These will always be remembered, and justly so. But there are others - unsung and little known - without whose tireless efforts, courage and creativity over 3 decades, Drs. Salk and Sabin would have had no resources nor support to carry out their work. A man you've likely never heard of, Mr. Basil O'Connor, was the chief architect of the fight against polio. In 1927 Mr. O'Connor was recruited by Franklin Roosevelt to take the lead in removing this fearsome scourge from the face of the Earth. Mr. O'Connor was responsible for the end of Polio at least as much as those who wielded test tubes. His tools were persuasion, organization, fundraising, vision and backbone. By the mid-1950's near 30 years of effort Polio was on the run. And today we all owe him our thanks even though he is a mostly unknown and unsung.

Today we are pleased to announce the Award of the Methuselah Prize to Dr. Huber Warner for the idea that led to the National Institute on Aging's Intervention Testing Program. According to Dr. Warner, the founder of the program, “It occurred to me that I saw lots of papers from grantees of the NIA about slowing down aging and expending lifespan but they were rarely backed up and given credibility through testing.” Dr. Warner realized that a focused program was needed so that more than one lab would be able to confirm whether an intervention worked - To give a fair hearing to the very idea that research into the extension of healthy lifespan was a legitimate use of scarce government funds. This program was a success clearly showing for the first time that a drug, Rapamycin extends life maximum lifespan in mice.

Today children do not know what Polio is. Mothers do not lay awake at night wondering if their child will be next. It is beaten. One day our children may look upon their 90 year old great grandparents and see them appear as mere 50 year olds in late middle age. These children will be glad to have the love and wisdom from vibrant and contributing great grandparents. Today we want to bring Dr. Warner out from behind the curtain. To recognize and thank him for his crucial behind the scenes work - with this Methuselah Prize.

Posted by: David Gobel at June 2nd, 2014 8:23 AM

I saw a BBC documentary on Polio the other day and was a bit shocked that in 1952 it killed 60,000 people in the US alone with 3,000 dying and 21,000 being left with paralysis of some degree.

I think Dr Warner's work is important even if you don't believe that metabolic interventions will have much effect on aging as:

(1) He is accelerating the rate at which science gets to testing these interventions in humans. If they don't work at least that will be found out faster and people can try alternative approaches such as SENS.

(2) Hopefully the networks and infrastructure he sets up will be used to confirm the results of any SENS style approaches in animal models.

Posted by: Jim at June 3rd, 2014 4:41 AM
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