Ours is an era on the verge of developing means to treat the root causes of degenerative aging and thereby extend healthy life, eliminate age-related disease, and rejuvenate the old. The decades ahead are a critical time, in which the best and most promising approaches to research and development either take off or falter. There are all too many examples from the past in which promising new technologies languished long past the point at which they could have been created and made widely available. We don't want that to happen here, as it means the difference between health or frailty, life or death for all of us.
The first in a series of Rejuvenation Biotechnology conferences organized by the SENS Research Foundation was held late last year, and by all accounts went very well. You should certainly take a look at the BioWatch News special issue devoted to the conference and its goals if you have not already done so. It is a thoughtful look at some of the issues facing research and development in those parts of the field of aging research focused on intervention and cures.
The aim of the Rejuvenation Biotechnology conference series is to lay the groundwork for closer collaboration between industry and research establishments in the development of near future therapies to treat degenerative aging. The scientific foundations needed for rejuvenation therapies are progressing at a pace that is far slower than we'd all like, but it is nonetheless time to prepare the way for clinical translation of research results. That process takes time, and to pick one example, initial attempts at clearance of senescent cells might be only a few years away from initial clinical trials at this point: a for-profit startup company was recently founded to work on one approach. While it is easy to imagine that any practical treatment for aging would be mobbed by developers seeking to bring it to market as soon as it makes it out of early stage research, in truth that sort of outcome only happens when sufficient preparation has taken place. That means at the very minimum building a network of relationships and knowledge.
Videos of presentations given at the Rejuvenation Biotechnology conference were recently posted by the SENS Research Foundation staff. I think you'll find them interesting. Many more than are shown here can be found at the SENS Research Foundation YouTube channel.
The primary research focus of the Jang laboratory is to understand the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of age-related muscle loss and function. The Jang laboratory applies bioengineering approaches and stem cell-based therapies to study skeletal muscle dysfunction during aging and in age-associated muscle diseases. The laboratory develops and applies novel tools using a combination of animal and stem cell models.
The line of investigation aims to establish ways of regenerating the principle neurons of the adult cerebral cortex when these neurons are lost due to trauma or degeneration, including degeneration due to aging. Since endogenous precursors do not replace cortical neurons when they are lost, two strategies are being developed: manipulating these precursors with molecular genetic techniques to start generating neurons and transplanting engineered precursors that are programmed to disperse in the cortex and differentiate into cortical projection neurons.
This panel synthesized the discussions from all of the conference sessions and panels. A cross-section of academics, pharmaceutical reps, policy makers, and other presenters revisited the merits of a damage repair paradigm to address the diseases of aging considered at this conference. Panelists considered the changes that would be required to lay the groundwork for a new industry perspective focused on addressing damage indications for the diseases of aging either through preventing or repairing such damage.