Stretch Goals for the Mitochondrial Repair Research Crowdfunding Project: $40,000 Raised, 10 Days Left

It is by now the established model for crowdfunding efforts to keep going for the full span of time allotted at launch and add stretch goals if the original target is reached early. The mitochondrial repair research project running at hit its $30,000 goal at the end of last month, and so now we have stretch goals - see below for the updates.

The funds raised by this initiative will be used by the SENS Research Foundation to further in-house efforts at their Bay Area research center to apply allotopic expression to the whole mitochondrial genome. This involves gene therapy to introduce versions of all mitochondrial genes of interest into the cell nucleus, while amending the proteins produced in ways that ensure they will be transported back into the mitochondria where they are needed. This in effect creates a backup source of protein machinery needed for correct mitochondrial function and should make mitochondria, the cell's power plants, immune to the consequences of accumulating damage to their DNA, something that is thought to be a significant contributing cause of aging. Working allotopic expression therapies for all mitochondrial genes should be a cheap one-shot rejuvenation treatment, mass produced infusions that are the same for everyone and effective for everyone.

The groundwork for this approach has been laid over the past decade, some of it funded by early donors to the SENS Research Foundation. Across the pond those years of research have blossomed into commercial efforts at Gensight, where allotopic expression of a single mitochondrial gene is being developed as a therapy for the inherited condition Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy. A lot of money is going towards that effort, which should go a long way towards making the underlying technology robust and palatable to regulators. That in turn allows researchers interesting in treating the damage to mitochondrial DNA in aging to focus on expanding the application of allotopic expression to all relevant portions of the mitochondrial genome.

Since donations to this crowdfunding initiative go to the SENS Research Foundation, the Fight Aging! matching fundraiser will match all such donations made on the 1st of this month or later, the date on which our fundraiser launched. The generous philanthropists who put up the funds for our $125,000 matching fund will match dollar for dollar all donations made to the SENS Research Foundation until the end of this year - or until the fund runs dry, which I hope will happen first. There is $90,000 or so left in the fund at this time. What are you waiting for?

MitoSENS Mitochondrial Repair Project: Updates

Hi everyone, thanks so much for your support in reaching our initial goal! I'm proud to announce that we have just received a donation from a local company in the form of a large quantity of free DNA primers. We used the donation to design a huge set of primers that we can use to make dozens more mitochondrial targeting sequences (MTSes) to test for their ability to target proteins to the mitochondria. So instead of the 3 that we've tested so far we could test many different ones that we suspect might be good candidates as stretch goals for this campaign.

If we reach a total of $45,000 we can test all of these MTSes on ATP6 and see if we can bring it up to full activity.

If we reach a total of $60,000 we can also test all of these targeting signals on a 3rd gene, Cytochrome B, which has long been a challenging gene for us and others in the field to make functional. If we can get this gene working, we should be able to make any gene in the system work.

In addition, we are excited to announce matching funds! Several of you have asked for this. For every dollar that you donate to the Mitochondrial Repair Project another dollar will go directly into the SENS Research Foundation general fund to support all the great research we do at SRF. Thanks to Fight Aging! for helping to organize this fund to match your donations!


So has anyone tried MTS with Cytochrome B before? I've always wondered why Corral-debrinski and colleges didn't try their system on any gene other than ND4? Maybe they were just laser focused on fixing inherited eye diseases?

Posted by: Jim at October 15th, 2015 8:44 PM

Nick Lane claimed such efforts might be futile, because mitochondrial genes controlling respiration HAVE to be close to the site where the respiration is (operation latency etc.) otherwise respiration won't work.

More info:

Posted by: GTR at October 16th, 2015 3:51 AM

@GTR: If that were true, then the allotopic expression gene therapy for LHON pioneered by Gensight wouldn't work in animal and cell models. But it does.

Posted by: Reason at October 16th, 2015 4:36 AM

Hi Jim,

Actually, Dr. O'Connor and SENS Research Foundation's mitochondrial mutation team have been working intermittently for some time on an allotopic expression backup-gene rescue of a mitochondrial mutations in cytochrome B. As As with ATP8, they first had to generate a cell line with a homoplasmic null mutation for cytochrome B. Once that was accomplished, they successfully targeted CYB mRNA to the surface of mitochondria, and have subsequently been intermittently tweaking the system in order to attempt to rescue CYB-null cells; however, most of their focus has been on ATP8, progress on which has now yielded valuable experience and lessons that can be applied to CYB and other mitochondrially-encoded proteins.

Posted by: Michael at October 16th, 2015 3:04 PM

I think the stretch goals should have added additional time to the MitoSENS raiser to be fair. Still 30k goes a long way to getting things done, Bravo SENS!

Posted by: Steve H at October 19th, 2015 5:28 AM

Adding stretch goals of $5k and $20k more, 10 days before the project is scheduled to expire? C'mon guys. Don't do this to yourselves. Unless some financial angel descends from heaven you're not going to get $20k in 10 days.

Posted by: Slicer at October 19th, 2015 8:03 AM
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