SENS Research Foundation in the Media

The SENS Research Foundation, alongside its parent organization the Methuselah Foundation, is one of the most important scientific non-profits in the world today. These organizations are undertaking seed research, engaging in persistent advocacy, and organizing conferences to steer the scientific and funding communities onto the best paths to produce the toolkit of therapies and biotechnologies needed to achieve human rejuvenation. This means building ways to repair the catalog of cell and tissue damage that causes age-related fraity and disease, and thus reverse its progression. The goal is old age without pain, without suffering, without any loss of health and vigor, and given the right strategies in research and development, this is a practical goal for the decades ahead.

The SENS Research Foundation has a tiny budget for an organization that seeks to profoundly change the world for the better: entirely funded by philanthropic donations at $5 million each year. It is never the intent that the SRF staff and associated researchers do everything themselves, however. The point of the exercise is to steer other funds and other scientific groups towards the best possible lines of research by demonstrating their worth, and by making sure that everyone in the scientific community knows about past demonstrations carried out elsewhere. Does this really work at this sort of funding level, however? The answer is a resounding hell yes it works, even if more is always better.

If you have been paying attention for the past decade you'll notice that these days there are several lines of SENS research that are spreading out and being picked up by people with deeper pockets. Senescent cell clearance has had its arrival year this year, with a great technology demonstration of improved healthspan in aging mice. Similar the targeting of telomere extension as the common mechanism in all cancer is a SENS approach that now has some people in the mainstream research community working on a variety of initiatives, while the SENS Research Foundation in-house efforts are respectfully covered by the popular science media.

Ten years ago, the people who publicly proposed exactly this research were mocked, and all too many scientists avoided talking about extending healthy human life by treating the causes of aging. Now it is a very different story. All those community fundraisers in the past, all of the advocacy, all of the grassroots efforts? They pay off. Not immediately, because it takes years to make things happen. But we can clearly see the results arriving now. There are yet more areas of SENS research that need to have their day in the sun, however, which is why we must double down and keep on trucking. We're starting to win the game in earnest, the wheel is moving, the avalanche started, so why stop here?

The SENS Research Foundation in fact probably gets more media attention than your average non-profit of its size, and justifiably so. Nowhere near enough media attention, I'd say. Research into repairing the causes of aging needs to be right up there in the public conversation alongside cancer research, and the funding should be much the same. That is a thing to aim for, and the sooner we get there the better the prospects for a future that doesn't involve sickness and decline. Here are a couple of recent items covering the SENS Research Foundation and its staff:

New innovation to extend life expectancy

Tucked away in a small office in the heart of Silicon Valley, the SENS research foundation is engaged in the cutting-edge work of rejuvenation biotechnology. They experiment with preservation of the cell and, more specifically, the powerhouse of the cell: the mitochondria.

With donations primarily from philanthropists, SENS operates on a US$5million annual budget that founders consider a drop in the bucket compared to what is spent on healthcare. SENS's approach is still a long away from being used on people, as it would likely need testing on animals first before being incorporated in human gene therapy, a technique also still under study.

Front and Center: Singer, Composer, Pilot, Global Outreach Coordinator at SENS Research Foundation, Maria Entraigues-Abramson

WiMN: You're currently the Global Outreach Coordinator for SENS Research Foundation. How has your experience as a singer and composer helped you with this role?

MEA: As you can probably tell I can't stay on just one thing. I've always had this unstoppable curiosity since I was a little girl, and science has been one of my other big passions. SENS Research Foundation is a non-profit organization located in the Bay Area, working to develop new therapies to prevent, reverse and eradicate the diseases of aging. As we age we accumulate damage at a cellular and molecular level, that happens since we are born.

This damage or "junk" as we call it, doesn't bother us much until we start getting older. When the amount of waste crosses a certain threshold it starts affecting the functions in our body and we get sick. If we live long enough, in the way medicine is today, we will get at least one age related disease (cancer, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's, etc) if not several, and if we don't die of something else before, this is what will eventually kill us.

At SRF we have a roadmap to get aging under medical control. These strategies (Strategies Engineered for Negligible Senescence) were designed by biogerontologist Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a very prominent scientist from Cambridge, U.K., who co-founded the organization and is our Chief Science Officer. He wrote the book Ending Aging where he explains the seven types of damage that make us age and how we can tackle them using regenerative medicine. This is what we work on.

My work as the Global Outreach Coordinator is mainly development and fund raising. I focus on creating new relationships, bringing high net worth Individuals onboard. I do celebrity outreach, organize events, and anything that will help create awareness and raise funds to push the research and the development of treatments forward. These cures will happen, it is just a matter of time, and the more funding we get the faster it will happen. The fact that I've been in the music/entertainment business for so long helped me build a huge network of people and this is how I can do my job doing outreach for the organization, it is all about making connections and expanding our network.

Comments

I'd like to think that there are a lot of people who will have set up some sort of donations after seeing and reading this.

Posted by: Ham at May 15th, 2015 7:26 PM

@Ham
"...there are a lot of people..."
There are not many comments on this site or Josh Mitteldorf's blog.
Either readers believe that silence is golden or there are only few readers interested in ethernal life.

Posted by: Martin S. at May 17th, 2015 2:29 AM

@Martin

Yeah, you're probably right. I know this article was re-posted on a few sub-reddits as well. It didn't have a huge response in the comments section though, like these topics usually do. I've never heard of CCTV before either, so I don't know what kind of reach that has.

Posted by: Ham at May 17th, 2015 6:20 AM

@Ham: Strangely, TV seems to be a terrible medium for advocacy, at least from my experience. Possibly because it is very disconnected from the act of then getting up and doing something. But the response from past quite mainstream items on TV have been far more muted than the response to much more minor items online.

@Martin S.: Fight Aging! does not have a vast readership. The newsletter goes to a few thousand people. You can look at assessment tools for some idea of who comes by the site, though it is very hard to connect that to any meaningful metric:

http://www.similarweb.com/website/fightaging.org

In part this is because any very science-heavy site is on the margins already, visited by few people. Then couple that with the topic, which is also not something that many people think on all that often. For comparison you might think of a science-heavy cancer research site, and look at how much of a readership they get. That is about the best plausible scenario should aging research attain the position it merits in the public eye.

Posted by: Reason at May 17th, 2015 7:36 AM

At least for myself, the fact that I don't comment on a blog post doesn't mean I'm not interested on it. Simply, most of the time, I don't have anything interesting to say.

Posted by: Antonio at May 17th, 2015 1:50 PM

I can understand that video is not so good for advocacy. I can browse text on a website, but video is more cumbersome. I also prefer papers than conference videos with the same contents. I can more easily separate the interesting ones from the rest.

Posted by: Antonio at May 17th, 2015 1:54 PM

Regarding so few comments on Reason's blog, I once asked Reason about how to do comments because I often see no comment written. So, I too am disappointed there are few comments. I very much enjoy comments to Reason's articles/commentaries. It provides an impression of how others think about the prevailing articles.

Certainly, I wish there is a much larger readership for Reason's well done, thought provoking blog and support.

Posted by: Robert Church at May 18th, 2015 1:53 AM

I would be curious on how much traffic this site gets, whilst not everyone signs up to newsletters (I don't) I do read the site every day and Josh Mittledorf and others to keep up with developments.

I also enjoy Reasons articles and whilst I don't always agree on the best approaches to aging intervention (though I think SENS is doing valuable work which will help fight aging) being as I subscribe to a damage/programmed aging school of thought I enjoy what he does here.

As ADG has said in the past it is simply astounding how so few people think about life extension or that aging can even be intervened with. This deathist trance has held back research and continues to do so as many do not even consider it can be done. There are also significant numbers of people who think death is a good thing too of course but they are the really weird ones :) My wife is one of them and I just cannot understand the reasoning behind it.

Posted by: Steve H at May 18th, 2015 6:17 AM

@Steve:
I don't think everyone is "deathist". I bet on most people being just sceptic about posibility of living forever. I'm sceptic too. I believe it is possible, just not in my lifetime (I'm 35).

Posted by: Martin S. at May 18th, 2015 7:48 AM

Martin you are right not everyone is Deathist, I think many simply don't consider the idea that aging can be reversed rather than outright opposing the idea.

I am 39 myself but I think we will likely see first pass therapies soon judging by what is going on at the moment. One thing is certain is it wont happen unless people like us support the work and do what we can to help.

Posted by: Steve H at May 18th, 2015 8:36 AM

I definitely think we'll see some first pass attempts within the next 20 years, hopefully sooner. However, seeing if the results of any of these treatments result in longer and healthier lifespans will take decades, and I hope that they get released in a more timely fashion then that.

Posted by: Ham at May 18th, 2015 8:22 PM

I think you will see first pass therapies a lot sooner than that to be honest with you. Telocyte is something heading to the clinic which is a colaboration between Dr Fossel and Dr Blasco I believe and is a gene therapy for Telomerase. That is apparently already funded and going through new drug application at the moment.

Posted by: Steve H at May 20th, 2015 11:50 AM

I've been following fightaging.org for a couple years now and read ALL the articles that Reason publishes. I'm also following many other blogs and bio-science sites that cover health and gerontology in general for about 4 years now. My exposure is as broad as possible to stay in tune with the bigger picture.

I try to read and learn about things as unbiased as possible but I definitely prefer the SENS definition of aging and how to extend health-span. Everything adds up perfectly when looking at it from many different angles. I think that applying some 'big data' rules on current information out on the web will probably show most of the same damage patterns and solutions described in SENS.

Me too, I don't comment on blogs because I think I have nothing meaningful to say although I almost always wait for a month to read an article because I want to see reader responses. It's interesting to see how people react on new findings and ideas. Reader comments may generate new pointers for me to go check out and learn.

Note that my comment here comes in a month late, after everyone else has long moved on to other things and I assume no one will ever see it.
I don't post because I value people's time and don't want them to waste time on my non-value adding blabber.

If you read this ... sorry for having wasted your time.

As to when I think we'll start to see therapies become available ... I think it already started several years ago and will increase gradually without us probably realizing it at first. Drugs are coming on the market that help us with the little things like cholesterol, blood pressure and insulin management and those will get better and broader over time. I think that their effects on healthspan will probably compound to start build the Longevity Escape Velocity.

I'm now 45 and I feel quite positive that I'll grow old and healthy enough to see my grand-grand-grand-grand children grow up and have children of their own. We're in a time of ever accelerating exponential progress.

My only concern would be the availability of breakthrough procedures to the mass and the stupidity of so many people at all levels that may hold up progress.

I've actually been thinking for a little while now of going back to school and work on a biotech PhD. I find gerontology and biology in general fascinating and would love to be an active contributor.

Posted by: Jo Creyf at June 15th, 2015 6:07 PM

Hi Jo Creyf. Always good to hear from a supporter of longevity. I first started thinking about this topic 15+ years ago, but it was only very recently I decided to get into the biochemistry of it. I will never become a researcher but I do want to become an effective proponent, and since I'm already reasonably familiar with the more philosophical and political side of longevity (overpopulation etc), going into the biochemistry seems like the logical next step, plus I'm concerned with my own health and aging so that knowledge could prove helpful at some point.

Let's beat aging and live indefinitely.

Posted by: Northus at June 16th, 2015 4:16 AM

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