Reminder: Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014 is Next Week
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The SENS Research Foundation is hosting Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014 on August 21st in Santa Clara, California. The theme for this conference is bringing together business and science to pave the way for later clinical applications of the results of research programs that are still in progress.

SENS Research Foundation is proud to present the Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference: Emerging Regenerative Medicine Solutions for the Diseases of Aging. This conference will bring together leaders from the Alzheimer's, cardiovascular, cancer, and other age-related disease communities to discuss preventative and combinatorial strategies to address the diseases of old age.

The Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference builds upon novel strategies being pioneered by the Alzheimer's and cancer communities. By convening the foremost leaders from academia, industry, investment, policy, and disease advocacy, SRF seeks to inspire consideration of the wider potential of these strategies and evaluate the feasibility of preventative and combinatorial medicine applications to treat all aging-related diseases. Through a series of presentations and panel discussions, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, macular degeneration, musculoskeletal disease and Parkinson's disease will be examined with scientific, economic, regulatory and other considerations in mind.

In the years ahead novel forms of medicine will emerge that are a long way removed from the sort of drugs that today's regulatory process is intended to handle: gene therapies to move mitochondrial DNA into the cell nucleus, for example. Moreover, this new medicine will target the causes of aging, and thus be intended for more than just the sick among the elderly. Patients will include everyone that present regulations declare to be healthy, even through they are old and damaged. If you are sixty years old and have no defined medical condition, then congratulations - but you are not healthy by any measure. Your risk of death and disease is much higher than it was three decades ago, and this is precisely because of the cellular and molecular damage that has gnawed away at every part of your biology. Present regulation and institutional views on aging and health are outmoded, an obstacle to a future in which the causes of aging can be treated. Much that is currently encoded as tradition or law in the medical research and development community must change.

Thus when considering a timeline of decades between today and the advent of functional rejuvenation biotechnologies, it is important to lay the groundwork. As public awareness and support grows, it helps to have influential individuals and organizations who are already willing to move forward and change. It always moves more slowly than we'd like it to, but the work has to be done: it is all a part of the broader spectrum of advocacy.

The list of speakers at the Rejuvenation Biotechnology conference is well worth a look, and there's a glossy PDF brochure as well. One portion of the conference agenda is a focus on how the existing obstructive regulatory system can be changed rather than how it can be worked around, which is what you'll get as a view from the community of those who must shape their careers within the bounds of what is permitted by the FDA. They can't talk about working around the system or (better) tearing it down as that has material consequences when it comes to the ability to lead research and development programs. Talking about change and expansion of regulation is permitted dissidence, while everything else is likely to cause issues for any program that a noteworthy dissident is involved in:

Escalating societal healthcare needs have driven an unprecedented era of biomedical innovation. However, the development of candidate technologies without consideration of a robust regulatory strategy is likely to contribute to stymied patient access and commercial viability. Therefore, this session will consider worldwide efforts to rapidly and proportionally develop international regulatory processes to accommodate increasingly heterogeneous and unfamiliar healthcare technologies and their swift translation from lab to bedside.

So everyone recognizes that there is a problem, in that regulation blocks progress and makes it far more expensive than it should be, but the usual reaction is some variant of "we need more and better regulation." Which is pretty much how we arrived at the ridiculous system of medical regulation that presently exists, in which it is illegal to treat aging, near everything that isn't explicitly permitted is forbidden, and it requires a decade of therapies widely available via medical tourism to embarrass politically sensitive regulators into allowing treatments to move forward. Absent that regional competition you can be certain that stem cell medicine would still be stuck in the labs, faced with ever-steeper demands for trials and data. At every step of the way people involved with medical regulation said "this isn't working," and yet the next regulatory iteration is always worse, more invasive, more costly, and more harmful than the last.

Comments

If someone did work out how to move mitochondrial DNA into the cell nucleus, it would be interesting to see if this were offered overseas via medical tourism quickly.

I think a big disincentive for people to try would be a lack of published studies showing benefits in humans, as these studies would take decades to conduct, unless they relied on measures of epigenetic biomarkers or some other aging biomarker.

So I'm guessing that something that has a visible cosmetic effect could be the first thing to become popular. I've seen speculation that gluscopane removal and senescent cell removal could improve the youthful appearance of skin. So maybe one of those therapies might get taken up by overseas medical centers.

There is some movement on regulation. The Japanese government is now allowing stem cell therapies to be sold after only stage 2 trials have been completed for conditions where there is no other decent therapy. I think this is more because the current Japanese government sees stem cells as a potential future industry and wants to create jobs and economic growth, rather than a direct recognition of the high costs of the current regulatory system. But regulatory competition between developed nations is to be welcomed.

Posted by: Jim at August 14, 2014 3:17 AM
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