Ascendance Biomedical is a fairly new venture, still in the early stages of formalizing its structure and agenda. It is focused on the twofold path of (a) establishing patient-funded trials of potentially useful therapies in the longevity science space, and (b) packaging participation in trials and later purchase of therapies via medical tourism, bundling all of the complications into a single product. The people involved overlap with the principals of the Global Healthspan Policy Institute, and are fairly well connected in our community. The organization is tackling just a few types of therapy to get started, gaining experience in how best to go about this class of project.
Now, I will be the first to say that their initial and current work on trials and medical tourism is in areas that are not all that interesting to me, in that I don't believe they will have any great impact on aging: an established but not widely adopted cancer therapy and a hormone therapy approach to restoring ovarian function in older women. I'm not singling out Ascendance Biomedical in saying this. A number of similar initiatives are taking place in the aging research community, such as the Ambrosia trial for plasma transfusion, the TAME trial for metformin, and the TRIIM trial for thymus rejuvenation. What these all have in common is that if you think that aging is caused by accumulated molecular damage, then little should be expected to emerge from these efforts: these are hormone treatments, supplements, and existing drugs, or new therapies that seem at best to fall into much the same region as first generation stem cell transplants, in that they alter signaling in old tissues in some way that helps a little. They are not damage repair. I think we can do much better than all of this, via the SENS approaches. In any case, the point is not Ascendance Biomedical today, it is the potential Ascendance Biomedical of a few years from now.Ascendance Biomedical
Ascendance Biomedical is a novel corporation founded with an ambitious goal in mind: We want to make it easier for everyone to gain access to life-saving treatments - without the hassle. We are a team of physicians, scientists and entrepreneurs unified in the mission to save and improve lives. Ascendance Biomedical provides products and services which enable our customers to access the most cutting-edge biomedical technologies and treatments in the world. Working with clinics, physicians and scientists all over the world in all regulatory zones, we help you get the care that you need. We not only provide medical care and treatment, we also assist with flights, accommodation, travel instructions, the processing of medical records, direct connection with medical personnel upon arrival, analysis of your case to get you the best price with local physicians and - most importantly - set you up to receive the required treatments and interventions for your condition. Ascendance Biomedical offers not just products, but all-inclusive healthcare solutions for patients worldwide.
Medical tourism for senolytic treatments to clear senescent cells - one of the SENS programs for the treatment of aging - is on the Ascendance Biomedical agenda for the near future, and this is a very plausible exercise given the present state of the science. All of the existing senolytic drugs are very well characterized, new ones are being discovered among compounds easily ordered from chemical suppliers, and thus the costs to set up trials are reasonable when considered in the grand scheme of things. What is needed is an organization that specializes in rolling out such trials and then managing easy access to the therapies via medical tourism thereafter. Once such an organization exists, and is well connected in our community, then all further SENS therapies will have a much more cost-effective path to initial human trials and the clinic as soon as safety is proved. That will be important, as none of us will want to wait around for the ten years it will take someone with deep pockets to fight their way past an uncaring FDA. As for stem cell therapies, that can happen in parallel with public access to treatments outside the US.
When looking at the near future of rejuvenation biotechnology, you have to look beyond the therapies themselves and see the development of an ecosystem of companies sympathetic to the SENS vision for the medical control of aging. The first therapies are not only important for the treatments themselves, but also for the organizations that are created in the process of development, and which continue onward afterwards to take on new challenges. We need companies like Ichor Therapeutics that come attached to an established laboratory service business. We need companies like Oisin Biotechnologies doing the work of building the therapies. We need startup incubators and incubator-like organizations like the Methuselah Foundation is becoming. We need the angels and venture capitalists who think SENS is a great idea. We need the non-profits that help to push the research into readiness, such as the SENS Research Foundation. And of course, we need efforts like Ascendance Biomedical that focus on building a better, smoother, more efficient bridge to the clinic. All of these components in the ecosystem are emerging, piece by piece, thanks to a great deal of hard work beyond the scenes.
The medical tourism industry has only grown since stem cell therapies first became available, and since the regulatory burden in the US and Europe continues to increase. More regulation means more costly medicine, and worse medicine - the gap between what is possible and what is allowed continues to grow as it takes ever longer for research to be approved by the FDA and other regulatory bodies. Yet in many ways the medical tourism industry is very immature. There is little in the way of service organizations, reviewers, independent assessors and standards bodies. When you choose medical tourism, you must undertake a lot of work yourself, and will probably find yourself wishing that someone just offered simple, sensible packaged products for therapies of interest. This lack of market maturity may be a consequence of the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, very few people actually purchase any given therapy on any given day. The healthy, or at least those not in very dire straits, vastly outnumber the sick and the damaged. The advent of therapies like senescent cell clearance using senolytic drugs changes the whole economic picture here, however. This is a product that can be sold to everyone over the age of 40, once every few years. The pool of potential customers is far, far greater than that for a therapy for any given age-related disease, and the economics mean that yes, we should absolutely see the emergence of a competitive marketplace for packaged services like those offered by Ascendance Biomedical.