Considering Age Reversal Therapeutics

Age Reversal Therapeutics is an initiative launched by quite the varied set of people: leaders from the "anti-aging" marketplace's Life Extension Foundation, a SENS Research Foundation researcher, a selection of biotech industry veterans, a practitioner of anti-aging medicine, and a reputable genetics researcher quite well known in our community. Strange bedfellows indeed - a meeting of many houses of the broader community interested in aging, houses that typically don't have much to do with one another, and indeed in some cases don't think much of one another. The basic plan here is to raise money from investors and then put it into some of the most promising of recent research and development initiatives in the treatment of aging. It is intended to be one of those hybrids that is something like a company and something like an investment fund. You can read their plans in some detail in their large PDF prospectus; scroll all the way down past the legal and fiscal matters to page 124 for the discussion of what exactly they intend to fund and the overall goals of the venture.

It is my belief that over the long term the currently terrible "anti-aging" marketplace will see the useless pills, creams, supplements, and potions replaced by rejuvenation technologies that actually work - as those technologies emerge from the scientific community, that is. The "anti-aging" marketplace always was, to a very large degree, a pipeline established by earnest believers in the end goal of extending healthy life spans, but who were unfortunate enough to have found that calling well in advance of the existence of any way to meaningfully alter the course of aging. Having the heart in the right place doesn't excuse what came next, of course, in which any old junk was thrust into the market in order to make money from the credulous, and thanks to the megaphone of marketing the whole concept of intervening in the aging process became synonymous in many eyes with rampant fraud over the course of the last few decades of the last century. This history does explain why some of the notable companies in the space, such as the supplement seller Life Extension Foundation, do in fact devote funding to legitimate research that you and I might approve of: stem cell trials, SENS programs, cryopreservation technology, targeted cancer therapies, and the like.

Age Reversal Therapeutics represents one of a number of possible next steps beyond those activities, now that the environment and awareness of aging as a therapeutic target has advanced to the point at which the rejuvenation therapy of senescent cell clearance is under development in startups, Calico Labs and Human Longevity have raised large sums, and other efforts make it clear that there is money out there for meaningful commercial work on the problem of aging. The question is how to take this new enthusiasm among for-profit investors and turn it into the research funding still needed to push new rejuvenation therapies to the point of commercial viability. Years of work and millions of dollars in fundraising yet remain to be accomplished to reach that point in most cases. The SENS Research Foundation has launched Project|21 as one possible answer to this question. Age Reversal Therapeutics is another possible answer. There are other groups out there taking the more traditional paths of establishing venture funds or starting their own companies. Old habits die hard, sad to say, and most investors are not yet willing to abandon profit as the primary marker of success, when the only real measure of success is future health and longevity. What use is financial profit to those crippled by age, who cannot buy the only thing they really want?

I think the next ten to twenty years of transition in the "anti-aging" marketplace from junk and outright lies to therapies that work is going to be messy for any poorly educated consumer. For people like me it will be increasingly hard to draw good lines between good and bad initiatives. We are absolutely going to see clinics marketed as anti-aging salons selling fully functional senescent cell clearance treatments in a package with entirely useless apple stem cell facial scrubs, and making little effort to educate their customers as to where the benefit comes from. We will eventually see clinics selling packages wherein, unlike the obvious example above, I cannot make a good judgement call as to which components are worth the candle. The glass half full view is that this will be much better than the present situation. An "anti-aging" marketplace in which only 10% of the products actually work is still 10% better than what we have today. So to the degree that the Age Reversal Therapeutics principals find new sources of significant investment from the Life Extension Foundation sphere of influence, then go on to fund projects that I agree with, and note that rejuvenation of the thymus is on their list, for example, and further manage to push the results into clinics for medical tourism and trials for validation, then I'm all in favor of the mess that lies ahead. It will certainly beat the present mess, featuring as it does a complete lack of ways to effectively treat aging as a medical condition.

But I encourage you to explore the Age Reversal Therapeutics website and form your own opinions. Certainly there is always the lingering suspicion that a venture led by the Life Extension Foundation and other "anti-aging" marketplace principals will go on to fund projects that I would characterize as useless at best and objectionable at worst. We shall see. I choose to be cautiously optimistic, and believe that, if the funding can be found, this has the potential to become something that looks a lot like the Life Extension Foundation's research funding program shorn of the Life Extension Foundation itself.

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