An Interview with the Major Mouse Testing Program Principals

The folk leading the Major Mouse Testing Program are here interviewed on their work. This volunteer initiative aims to crowdfund mouse life span studies of useful approaches to lengthening healthy life spans in mammals, including SENS rejuvenation research methodologies as they become possible to carry out, such as senescent cell clearance. There are a fair number of such studies that could be carried out, but in most cases the few champions in the research community have struggled to raise funding and engage broader interest. This was the state of affairs for senescent cell clearance up until very recently, but no-one can really argue with the data for life extension in mice via this method that now exists - so it is certainly the case that very promising approaches for treating aging languish for lack of funding, but could be spurred forward by better data in mice.

The gap in the market we're aiming to fill is the bridge between basic research and taking it to clinical trials. People like the SENS Research Foundation are spinning a lot of plates doing the high risk, nitty gritty research that isn't profitable, but crowdfunding can get that done. We want to create a solid gold standard testing platform without the restrictions of government, where any team can come to us for parallel testing and halve development time. The problem with animal testing is there's this disconnect; it's not sexy science basically. A common response is let me know when it's available in humans, but it's not going to be! No animal data means no human testing, regulatory organizations like the FDA, NHS, and EMA all insist on a battery of animal testing before human trials. Period. It's not sexy, it's not available in humans next week, but if MMTP or other projects don't get things done on mice for example, it's never going to get done.

It's not just about the science, too many people claim to support longevity but don't actually do anything to contribute or get things moving. Right now we're pushing to promote ideas among decision makers at a wide range of levels - at the international level like the last World Health Organization Conference in Geneva and at the local level trying to stimulate the same process in multiple countries. There is a big problem with funding today, but if there's even the smallest chance to stimulate movement and make a bigger research impact, we've got to do it.

We can't rely on a traditional model of funding like the FDA, EMA and other government organizations. They may fund some ventures, but it's never going to be the avalanche of support we need to get things done in a timely manner. The pace of progress is glacial in that model. We can't afford to just preach to the choir unfortunately, we need to make bigger waves. Advanced glycation end-products (AGE) breakers for example is one treatment we'd like to explore, and AGEs are closely implicated with diabetes and atherosclerosis, which means we could potentially draw on mainstream and charity support if the data is there to support it. We've got to cast a wide net ultimately or we're not going to go anywhere near fast enough; it's that simple.

We're back to the problem of the mindset here, too many people have this idea that aging isn't amenable to intervention and yet they're quite happy to fund disease research for age-related diseases like Alzheimer's. The money is out there, but we need to be more tactical in how we pursue it. The 1st phase of testing using senolytics to clear senescent cells is quite a difficult concept to sell, but the more we learn and the more robust results we get, the more we can capture hearts and minds. No-one is taking any wages either, which it's why it's so cheap and we can achieve a lot more.



Glad to read this informative interview and to witness the good spirit of Steve and Elena!

They're stressing important points of the MMTP model: crowdfunding, knowledge sharing, open science... those approaches are the future of science; common citizens can no longer be kept out of the loop.

Posted by: Nico at March 15th, 2016 3:59 AM

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