Today I'm pleased to announce the launch of this year's Fight Aging! matching fundraiser in support of the work of the SENS Research Foundation, funding scientific programs to speed progress towards working rejuvenation therapies and an end to frailty and disease in aging. In 2013 we raised $60,000, in 2014 $150,000, and this year we're shooting at a cool quarter of a million dollars. You never know where the limits really are unless you forge ahead, and support for the treatment of aging as a medical condition is growing more rapidly today than at any time since the creation of Fight Aging!
We have kicked things off with a Reddit /r/futurology post this year, as we did last year. Please do take a look and share the link and this fundraiser with those who might appreciate it. The /r/futurology community has been a great help in the past, and a source of many new supporters of longevity science.
Front and center, I'd like to thank Josh Triplett, Christophe and Dominique Cornuejols, Michael Greve of forever-healthy.org, and Stefan Richter for joining Fight Aging! in putting money on the table to set up a $125,000 matching fund for this event. From today until December 31st 2015, we will match every donation to the SENS Research Foundation dollar for dollar. I'd also like to thank David Gobel at the Methuselah Foundation for leaping in to be the first donor, providing an additional $15,000 for SENS research this year. Only another $110,000 to go, and three months to do it in!
How do we create a real, actual medical rejuvenation industry? By building technologies capable of repairing the known forms of cellular and molecular damage that cause aging. These types of damage are well-cataloged, and there is broad consensus on their relevance to age-related disease, but surprisingly little work takes place in the research community when it comes to making use of this knowledge to create treatments. This is even more surprising given that where progress has been made, such in amyloid clearance, senescent cell clearance, and mitochondrial repair, even early stage outcomes are of great quality, and clearly well worth further attention.
Funding for SENS technologies has been underway at a modest level for a decade now, and I can point to concrete progress occurring as a result. The wheel is starting to turn, and prospective SENS and SENS-like damage repair treatments targeting the causes of aging are beginning to leave the labs for clinical translation. Our community created this achievement, through advocacy and a comparatively small amount of funding directed to speed and enable to most promising scientific programs. One of the great secrets of our age is that early stage research is very cheap, but next to no-one other than philanthropists is willing to fund it. Just as soon as a prototype can be built, however, other institutions flock to fund the next stages. When looking at this is seems pretty clear that creating new and far more effective medical technologies really does fall upon the shoulders of the average person with a little vision, and the willingness to stand up and make a difference.
For example, all of these growing lines of development were originally seeded by small amounts of funding at critical times over the past decade, all of it provided by philanthropic donations. You can find further details in the latest SENS Research Foundation annual report.
Firstly: from 2008, donors to the Methuselah Foundation and then SENS Research Foundation collectively helped fund the work of the Marisol Corral-Debrinski lab on mitochondrial DNA damage. That was successful and in the years since then these researchers founded, grew, and found venture funding for Gensight, a company that is now devoting tens of millions of dollars to establishing the first clinical trials of this technology for inherited mitochondrial disease. Yet without the funding at the earliest stage, provided by forward-thinking SENS supporters, that early stage work struggled to find a patron. This is the sort of difference that we can make.
Secondly: The SENS Research Foundation has for years been using donor funds to support efforts to clear senescent cells from tissues, to remove their insidious contribution to the aging process. In 2015 the Methuselah Foundation and SENS Research Foundation have provided seed funding for the startup company Oisin Biotech that will be further developing one of these methodologies: these clearance technologies are leaving the lab and starting on their own journey to the clinic, one that will see them attract far greater funding. But again, without the years of low-level philanthropy, these are projects that languished unfunded by the institutional research establishment in their early stages.
Thirdly: One of the first and longest-running SENS programs was aimed at clearing age-related chemical junk from the cellular recycling organelles called lysosomes. With age, these organelles become clogged and faulty, and cells drown in garbage and broken components. The SENS Research Foundation has produced drug candidate molecules from studies of bacteria known to consume these compounds, and the long-time supporter Jason Hope has founded Human Rejuvenation Technologies to develop the first round of treatments based on this technology, aimed initially at removing the characteristic blood vessel plaques of atherosclerosis.
This is how the world is changed, a weight of small decisions to help, snowballing into significant projects. This is how, step by step, we can build a near future in which being old isn't accompanied by pain, suffering, disease, and death.