The SENS Research Foundation staff have released their annual report for 2015, and as you can no doubt see it marks the beginning of a new phase for the organization, as well as for the field of rejuvenation research as a whole. Everyday people such as you and I have materially supported SENS research programs over the past decade, initially at the Methuselah Foundation and later at the SENS Research Foundation. The most advanced of these lines of research are now beginning to transfer out to startup companies for development of the first round of therapies. Over the next five to ten years we will see at least a few examples make it into trials and clinical practice, and the data on effectiveness will start to roll in.
This is the first of many steps that will see the SENS approach of periodic repair of cell and tissue damage broaden far beyond the SENS Research Foundation and its present allies. The prevention of age-related frailty and disease via these means will eventually become one of the principal pillars of medicine. As this year's Fight Aging! SENS fundraiser nears its launch, it is important to remember that we helped to make this happen: all of us together, over the years. Take a long look at the progress reported by the SENS Research Foundation and see what you have helped to create: meaningful steps towards a world without frailty and suffering.
Creating partnerships and collaborations to accelerate research
As the landscape of rejuvenation biotechnology broadens, we are seeing increasing opportunities for technology transfer and infrastructure-building efforts, across several categories of transaction.
1) We provide small seed funds - alone or with other funding sources - to companies able to perform mission-related research and development, saving costs against expanding our internal programs. Our research program on Advanced Macular Degeneration has been transferred using this approach, allowing further investigation whilst freeing up our own resources to focus on our next priority.
2) We have supplied small amounts of loan funding to private companies that are developing infrastructure for the rejuvenation biotechnology industry. This includes a loan to assist in the establishment of a tissue cryopreservation company that is working towards the creation of a supply chain for artificial organs.
3) We transfer appropriately mature research to well funded start-up companies pursuing specific disease fields, in return for a stake in those companies.
Case study: technology transfer to Human Rejuvenation Technologies, Inc.
SENS Research Foundation's LysoSENS program had been investigating methods of removal of unwanted intracellular aggregates since 2009. One project focused on aggregates that are the key drivers of the damage underlying plaque formation in atherosclerosis. Removing these aggregates from the immune cells that they disable would reduce plaque formation and dramatically lower the prevalence of heart disease. The project had successfully identified a non-human enzyme that was effective at eliminating some of these aggregates. It became clear that the research was at a stage where significant further investment could greatly accelerate progress, and that such investment could be achieved by transferring the research into a private company. This was done in 2014, when Jason Hope - himself a longterm supporter of the Foundation - formed Human Rejuvenation Technologies, Inc. (HRT). The technologies developed by the Foundation were transferred to HRT in return for a 10% stake in the company.
Case study: seed funding for Oisin Biotech
SENS Research Foundation was considering the creation of an internal project to investigate novel rejuvenation biotechnology solutions to the ablation of senescent cells. Instead we helped in the creation of Oisin Biotech, providing seed funding along with the Methuselah Foundation. Oisin is using licensed liposome technology matched with their own patent-pending DNA construct to perform apoptosis-induced eradication of senescent cells. They have demonstrated that their construct can selectively target senescent cells in vitro.
Delivering a mature and engaged research program
SENS Research Foundation supports a global research effort. Our own scientists are based in our Mountain View, California facility and we fund researchers at field-leading institutions around the world. As we age, we accumulate decades of unrepaired damage to the cellular and molecular structures of our bodies. The types of damage are few in number - we count seven, currently - but cause a great many diseases of aging, including cancer, Alzheimer's and atherosclerosis. Rejuvenation biotechnologies target this underlying damage, restoring the normal functioning of our bodies' cells and essential biomolecules. As preventative interventions they halt the harmful accumulation of damage, stopping disease before it ever starts. Damage and disease have a many-to-many relationship. That simply means that sometimes one type of damage can cause multiple diseases and sometimes one disease is caused by multiple types of damage.
Foundation-funded research includes teams which are:
1) Developing a regenerative medicine approach to treating inflammatory bowel disease, creating underlying technologies vital for future approaches to cancer.
2) Creating therapeutic approaches to intracellular aggregates which build up over time and compromise the functioning of cells in the brain, heart, and muscles.
3) Engineering healthy new tissue for the thymus, helping to restore the vigorous immune response of youth.
5) Exploring non-invasive approaches to the diagnosis and monitoring of certain underdiagnosed forms of heart disease - avoiding the need for cardiac biopsy - and identifying.
7) Understanding the genetic basis of certain cancers which rely on a mechanism called ALT (alternative lengthening of telomeres), to pave the way for new cancer treatments.
The report contains much longer summaries of current research programs, which are well worth reading. These are exciting times we live in, and it is very welcome to see the work and support of past years beginning to pay off today. As we gear up for this year's fundraiser, starting on October 1st, bear this all in mind. Donating to the SENS Research Foundation this year helps to build the foundation for tomorrows' advances in treating aging. There is no better way I know of to put money to good use.