The mitochondrial repair project being crowdfunded at Lifespan.io has passed its original $30,000 goal, with nearly 300 people having donated to the cause. This is a solid start for the Lifespan.io team, and I look forward to their future projects. One of the most important things that any of us can be doing - other than raising funds for research - is expanding the community, reaching out to find new supporters. Many of these donors have never given to this cause before, and the Lifespan.io staff have been working hard on outreach these past few months. This should be becoming easier as the years pass and there is ever more incremental progress to show off thanks to past research, but bootstrapping a movement is hard work, a long slog. More hands and new approaches are always welcome. Meanwhile, on the research side, here are a few notes on the work that your generosity has enabled:
Reversing or preventing damage to mitochondrial DNA may be a key factor in slowing the aging process. At the SENS Research Foundation, we are in the early stages of creating an innovative system to repair these mitochondrial mutations. The MitoSENS team has already demonstrated the rescue of cells containing mitochondrial mutations, and has recently generated highly promising preliminary data showing the rescue of the complete loss of a mitochondrial gene. Our next steps will focus on improving the effectiveness of the targeting system, so that we can repeat our success with one mitochondrial gene to all thirteen. We will then transition this work into animal models of mitochondrial dysfunction. This would be a crucial step in what may be the development of an eventual cure for aging and aging related diseases.
We have a talented team of highly trained mitochondrial biologists working on MitoSENS. Right now the rate-limiting factor is the cost of the expensive reagents that we use for these experiments. Increasing our funding with this campaign will allow us to double the pace of our research and bring results to the public that much faster. We have made preliminary progress on rescuing function with a second gene, ATP6, and your support will help us perfect our targeting of both ATP8 and ATP6. This requires more cells, more viruses, and many new synthetic gene sequences. Specifically, we will spend your generous donations on cell culture reagents, oxygen consumption measurements, virus production, quantitative reverse transcription PCR, DNA synthesis services, and publication of our results in a peer-reviewed journal.