Video: Aubrey de Grey Presenting at Google London

In any given year Aubrey de Grey, cofounder of the SENS Research Foundation, gives a great many presentations on his vision for the successful treatment and reversal of aging: at scientific conferences, for life insurance companies, in front of advocacy group meetups, and more. A sizable fraction of his work and the work of many of the staff at the Foundation is in essence persuasion. After all, the only reason we are not well on our way towards the robust demonstration of rejuvenation in old mice is that most people don't care about building new medical technologies to treat aging, and don't give much thought to the prospects for defeating age-related disease. There is consequently very little funding for the relevant research programs; you can compare and contrast the present state of aging research and its lack of support with the way society at large thinks about cancer and the size of the cancer research establishment. Two very different mindsets and very different research communities as a result.

Here is video of a presentation given last week to Google employees in London. It includes some implementation progress reports from the past few years that may or may not be news to you, depending on how closely you've been keeping track of the field. When you spend your time following along with your nose to the news feed, sometimes it is pleasant to step back and note that SENS has moved a fair way down the path from "here is a plan, and this is what we should do," and well into the realm of "this is what we're doing, and here is where we are now." A lot of people worked hard and donated generously to make that progress happen, and beyond that it is a testament to just how much you can do with a few million dollars in early stage biotechnology research these days: prices are falling even as capabilities improve dramatically.

Google brings in a lot of noted people to present to company employees, so don't read anything into this. I believe de Grey has presented there in the past, long before the California Life Company, Google's new venture into longevity science, came into being. He will probably present again in the future, regardless of whether Calico heads off into the wilderness of the genetics of human longevity or the leadership there choose to fund something more likely to produce meaningful results and treatments for aging, such as SENS-like repair biotechnologies.


As "lack of funding" is the main reason why research is not progressing at the speed that SENS (and many of us) wants, one question that I want to ask is why serious players that can donate or invest large sum of money are not getting into the game and put those money behind SENS? What can be done by SENS to be more convincing that their research is going to work in a not-so-long time? I believe those entities simply do not believe such things can be done. I directed couple of my friends from medical field (very qualified and talented people) to SENS web site, and they were not convinced.
They "saw similar things for past decade". So I believe, SENS should really put some of this technology on the market soon to be convincing and attract large sums.
I would like to suggest that SENS marketing has to adapt a bit and be more "commercial". Also when you hear 20-25 years until such technology will be available, that is dis-concerning, and most of the people will lose their interest in few years. My suggestion - from a business side - is that somehow the research should be accelerated and trim down that time to a more "acceptable" time frame. Even 5 years is a long time in business and companies that do not produce something "visible" is such a long time frame, they have problems surviving. I know SENS is not a company, however, they need to adjust a bit and become more commercial in order to secure funds.
I will happily donate the revenues from 10-15 working hours every year, if SENS will create an easy mechanism for employers to allow their employees to donate to SENS. I already donated small sums to SENS, however if the donate option will be available via employers or via stores - ie: when some foundations have their fundraising campaigns, you can donate at the store's cashier when you buy goods. And I believe like me, there will be many, many people that will donate this way, especially if some visible results are out there to "touch" and people will realize that SENS research is for real and not just nice words.

Posted by: alc at August 5th, 2014 8:14 PM

I agree with your views on Google. Nonetheless, at least Aubrey gets the chance to present in front of some potential, big money donors (or at least some mid-sized money donors).

Posted by: Anthony Hopper at August 6th, 2014 12:14 AM

Yes... I think one way to increase funding would be to ask people at supermarket checkouts if they would like to donate 50p to Alzheimers research or any of the other age related conditions - if you say sens not many people will know what youre talking about but I think many people would be willing to donate a small amount which could add up over time

Posted by: chris mcaulay at August 6th, 2014 2:03 AM

@alc You would like to know why the larger investors are not throwing money at this yet. To parallel this to the stock market, otc in particular, "whales" or large investors, wait for a tipping point either showing distinctive headway towards proof of concept, or, they wait for repeated generation of revenues which do not occur until there is a price per share above a calculated entry point which denotes a significant enough market cap and greater interest garnered by the growth of positive investor sentiment. Speculative buying starts small for disruptive technologies for the sheer reason that even the most disruptive technologies can be surpassed by even greater disruptive innovation(s). News of SENS must continue to spread further until it is no longer taboo to wish for biological immortality. Once the false stigmas diminish, the public will see this as the reality that it will be. It is just a matter of when not if. One of the biggest catalysts to assist SENS, in my opinion, is the growing acceptance of regenerative medicine. We are now practicing symptom management; give it a name and match it with a drug. The next step will be regenerative medicine, a sector I am continually investing in. The next phase will be rejuvenation therapies that will piggyback off of the regenerative medicine, though likely in much more of a comprehensive or all-encompassing format. While I am no Peter Thiel, I am making my growth in regenerative plays so that as returns become exponential, this way I can donate more to this field rather than just giving small amounts now which will give little return to myself or to organizations like SENS. In short, I do not pretend to have all of the answers as to where the big money is and why they are waiting, but I figured I'd throw out one angle to be debated and played with.

Posted by: Adam at August 6th, 2014 8:38 AM

Is there any reason why Calico doesn't seem to bring up SENS much, Art Levinson is the person who selects who works for them. Yet nothing is said of SENS. Why is this, do they disagree with SENS? Do they feel they know more? I am not a biologist, but I do know that if somethings been around for 1.5 years, and nothing I find really speaks of their interest in whats been around for 15 years. Something is off somewhere.

That's a lot of money to give to someone, to rely on his choices on who researched. Only to look over something as major as this. Or does it not seem like a major factor at all to them.

Posted by: thatperson at August 6th, 2014 9:03 AM

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