I'm very pleased to report that that the SENS Research Foundation project on mitochondrial allotopic expression (MitoSENS) that was crowdfunded at Lifespan.io this time last year has achieved success. The two target mitochondrial genes have been moved to the cell nucleus, and suitably altered so that the proteins produced return to the mitochondria. This means that cells so treated are immune to age-related damage to those two genes in the mitochondrial genome: they will still construct and make normal use of the proteins encoded in those genes as though nothing happened. Given that mitochondrial DNA damage is an important contribution to the aging process, progress on this front is very welcome.
The crowdfunded work was the final sprint at the end of a years-long project conducted with minimal funding, and it is great to see success. Congratulations are due to the researchers involved. There are thirteen mitochondrial proteins in total that are thought to be all that is needed to move into the nucleus. Allotopic expression of one other mitochondrial gene is solidly complete, and is the basis for the therapies under development at Gensight. Another two genes are somewhere in the middle of the process in the SENS Research Foundation network of researchers. This leaves a further eight genes to go. As ever, this is work that is in search of much greater funding: the researchers are always ready to go, and the more that we can do to help deliver that funding, the sooner we'll see rejuvenation therapies in the clinic.
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Hi everyone, it's been an amazing few months. In short, we have been tremendously successful in our efforts to rescue a mutation in the mitochondrial genome! Essentially we've shown that we can relocate both ATP6 and ATP8 to the nucleus and target the proteins to the mitochondria. We can show that the proteins incorporate into the correct protein complex (the ATPase) and that they improve function resulting in more ATP production. Finally, we show that the rescued cells can survive and grow under conditions which require mitochondrial energy production while the mutant cells all die.
We have finished writing up our results and submitted them for review and publication. It may take a while for our results to be published (the peer review process can be lengthy) but as soon as it is I'll post an update here so you can see the full paper. We have also started the project that you helped us get to our stretch goal on. We have made all the combinations of mitochondrial targeting sequences with ATP6 that we proposed and are now working on testing them. I'll let you know when we know more. Thank you so much for your support!