If things are comparatively quiet at the moment, it is because a lot of people are attending Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014 in California. The event is hosted by the SENS Research Foundation in an effort to hasten some of the organization and relationship building needed to speed the clinical development of near future rejuvenation treatments. The basic science for those treatments is in some cases just a few years away from practical utility if funding continues to grow, so some foresight and preparation is called for with regard to the long path ahead. There are many steps on the road leading from limited technology demonstration in the laboratory to widely available therapy in the clinic, and while not all of them need planning at this stage, it is certainly the case that a smooth transition from laboratory research to clinical development doesn't happen without planning and effort.
Some of the folk attending the Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014 conference are posting on the topic, and many thanks to them for doing so. You might browse the links below:
Opening remarks by Mike Kope, CEO of SENS Research Foundation, remind us of how much progress has been made in the field in the last several years, yet also reminds us we still have a way to go. Jerri Riley, VP of Outreach, outlines the agenda for the day, and thanks the audience, sponsors and exhibitors before introducing the keynote speaker, Dr. George Church, a pioneer in genomics and synthetic biology.
On the stage sits an all-star panel including Aubrey de Grey, Jeff Karp, Caleb Finch, Stephen Minger and Richard Baker, discussing the idea that diseases of aging may stem from molecular and cellular damage that accrues with age. I am trying to not think about the sheer brainpower and knowledge that sits just a few feet away.
Jim O'Neil is a partner at Mithril Capital Management, which invests in transformative and durable technologies. With a background in as a Regulator at DHHS, he quickly realized that too much regulation is counterproductive. Jim talks about Breakout Labs, which funds emerging technology start ups. He states Mithril wants to right "backwards industries," those which desperately need to be examined and changed to become more efficient. One example he uses is health care, which I can certainly attest to, having worked and consulted in the field for over 20 years.
If this helps people live longer, albeit not necessarily without disease, what are the economic effects we can expect to see? Enter Peter Nakada. Well, if you can model it, you can insure it, right? With a background in Risk Management, Peter tell us that statistical models are not the way to go, as they do not capture "regime shifts", such as advancing technology. For example, mortality rates went up during the Industrial Revolution, due to more dangerous jobs using machinery, increased pollution, etc. These are examples of the "regime shifts" that are not accounted for in statistical models. Yet another reason how you measure is just as important as what you measure.
Studying regenerative medicine, amount of improvement was calculated, along with types of diseases that can be treated by stem cell therapy. It is up to this community to probabalize the benefits of developments such as new organ growth and stem cell treatments. In essence, we need to start thinking about the implications of longevity now, to ensure a better future tomorrow.
We learn that senescent cells drive aging and age related diseases, but why? Apparently, these cells secrete molecules that can act at a distance, affecting multiple neighboring cells, which causes failure of tissue function. [This is] noted to increase inflammation, which is single factor common in all diseases, including cancer. Senescent cells disrupt normal cellular function and structure. For example, premalignant cells injected into mice are activated and turn cancerous with the addition of senescent cells, while injection of non-senescent cells did not result in development of cancerous tumors. How can we fix this? One strategy includes medication which stop cells from secreting [these molecules] yet it needs to be present at all times.