AMRITA Initiative at the Regenerative Sciences Institute

A growing number of scientists and scientific organizations are willing to advocate for, and work towards, the treatment of aging. A great deal of effort over the past decade on the part of organizations like the Methuselah Foundation and SENS Research Foundation and their supporters has helped to change the culture of aging research and increase public awareness of the present state of aging science. This has created a much more receptive environment, one in which more such organizations can thrive.

Painting with very broad strokes, you might think of there being two camps in the aging research community: firstly the majority who see aging as caused by accumulated cell and tissue damage, and secondly a growing minority who see aging as an evolved program caused by epigenetic changes. There are of course a great many opposing factions and different viewpoints within those two large groupings, but I see this as the most important division in the field. With greater progress towards working therapies, we should have a good idea as to which side is correct within the next decade - it will be the one that can produce meaningful prototype rejuvenation treatments.

While SENS research programs are based on damage repair as the ideal approach to therapies for aging, the path that I favor, the Regenerative Sciences Institute takes an epigenetic focus for their otherwise quite similar advocacy for human rejuvenation. In terms of organizational development they are in their very early stages, but then so were the SENS initiatives a decade ago. In an ideal world, there would be scores of young organizations akin to these, pulling in funding for the science and helping to raise awareness for longevity science:

The AMRITA (Abolishing Morbidity by Regeneering and Integrated Technology Advancement) Initiative is RSI's long-term strategy to develop and enhance the regenerative capacity of human beings to live healthier, disease-free lives and transform aging into a benign, beneficial process during which health and vigor are maintained. Aging results primarily from reversible loss of epigenetic/epigenomic information with cell divisions and with chronological time. The key to differences in longevity among mammals is varying fidelities of the biomolecular machines that maintain the epigenome. AMRITA is developing methods to restore a youthful state of the epigenome and enhance regeneration. AMRITA is the logical next step for regenerative medicine - to engineer enhanced regeneration into human beings.

Closely integrated with our innovative education projects, the AMRITA Initiative is divided into three parallel tracks. The first track will identify ways to slow or reverse aging in the immediate future by using systems biology and targeted research to identify aging pathways amenable to intercession. The second track develops the technology to reprogram human cells and tissue in vivo to effectively rejuveneer them, based on breakthroughs in stem cell biology. Our own cells and tissues will be programmed to: 1) undergo a cycle of rejuvenative cell division, 2) remove old dysfunctional cells, and 3) replace them with rejuvenated youthful cells. Increased regenerative power will be a beneficial side effect. In the third track, micro- and nanotechnology are being developed to create biological automatons (biomatons) and robots (biobots) that will be able to carry out repair throughout the body and effectively complement the pure biology based approaches.



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