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.