Building a Better Cellular Senescence Assay: LongeCity Puts Forward a $3000 Matching Challenge for the CellAge Fundraiser

CellAge is seeking philanthropic funding to build a better class of assay for senescent cell presence in tissues, a technology they plan to make freely available to academic researchers if successful in their efforts. Present assays for cellular senescence are well-established, some little changed for two decades, but are by now somewhat clunky and behind the times. They suffice for research and development, but are not a good basis for the coming future of low-cost, reliable clinical tests. An increase in the numbers of senescent cells throughout the body is one of the root causes of degenerative aging. Given the broad influence of cellular senescence in aging and many age-related conditions, with new evidence for this influence arriving every month these days, I would think that everyone should be assayed as a matter of course, a part of any sensible health checkup. Unfortunately, that would be hard to do today at a reasonable cost, even assuming you could find a company offering the service. The need for better assays will only increase as senolytic therapies of various sorts become available via medical tourism, and later in clinics in the US and Europe. If underging a treatment that removes senescent cells, then one would certainly want a reliable method of proving that it worked.

I have been speaking with the CellAge principals of late to work on other possibilities for funding, and help them to make some potentially useful connections within the community. That effort moves along at its own slow pace behind the scenes; it always takes a while to find out whether or not matters can be lined up to a useful conclusion, and then there is the separate undertaking of actually moving ahead to make that conclusion happen. Meanwhile, every additional helping hand makes things that much easier. Thus I am most pleased to note that the LongeCity community has put up a $3000 matching fund to help spur donations to the present crowdfunding initiative. They have sensibly made this a part of their existing program for funding discrete scientific projects, and picked out one portion of the necessary work at CellAge that will produce a useful outcome for the research community even standing alone. Good for them.

CellAge fundraiser support

LongeCity.Org has decided to support the current CellAge Fundraiser initiative beyond its standard support for certified 'star-rated' community fundraiser through an extension of its affiliate lab programme. To this end we have identified a specific small 'sub goal' within the first work project of the CellAge programme to get behind: The first 'work project' of the CellAge fundraiser is to design candidate synthetic promoters which would be able to accurately detect senescent cells. One of the very first scientific steps is to analyse transcription profiles of senescent cells. The team plans to cover different senescence states, in cells from different tissues and at different stage of senescence. The LongeCity target fund is raised in support of achieving one variant of this initial sub-goal: to ascertain the unique RNA profile of induced senescence in human fibroblasts.

By clearly defining the boundaries of this sub-goal we can be assured that contributions made towards it are directly impactful. In fact, even if the whole project should need some more time to develop, just this sub-goal alone might be a valuable contribution to anti-aging research. At the same time all the data generated in the sub-goal is directly integral to the larger whole of the project. LongeCity has committed to match $3000 worth of donations specifically in support of this sub-goal. Priority will be given to donations made through the LongeCity site, prior to February 18th.

Longecity Fund Match Announced For CellAge Campaign

Hello, dear friends! So far we have raised over 14,000 dollars for the CellAge campaign! There are 22 days left before the campaign ends, and it is time to make another push towards the victory line. Also we have an exciting announcement: the CellAge project is now endorsed by LongeCity, one of the oldest international pro-longevity organizations. Their forum represents an exclusive education platform that has helped thousands of people learn about the endeavor to bring aging processes under medical control, remain informed about the latest breakthroughs, and develop their own strategy of health maintenance.

The LongeCity community has certified this important research project to target and remove harmful senescent cells, and is contributing $800 right away. They are also running an internal fund match: anything donated at LongeCity before February, 18 will be doubled up to $3000, and then the whole amount will be sent to support CellAge campaign on Lifespan.io. Donations made this way will still be eligible for corresponding Lifespan.io rewards, so don't hold back! You are very welcome to contribute, and please remember that every dollar you donate at LongeCity becomes two - and the project will receive a nice push to get us to our goal: control over senescent cells!

Comments

Just being devil's advocate, but here are a few questions:

How is this different to what Oisin is doing? Given that there are loads of companies already working on this problem, why do we need another fund raiser?

Surely funds should be focused on removing senescent cells as a priority. How does a slightly better in vivo detection system help?

Posted by: Jim at February 2nd, 2017 10:15 PM

And if this technology is so critical why doesn't a well funded company like Unity feel the need to develop it?

Posted by: Jim at February 2nd, 2017 10:20 PM

Is this a non profit company that is going to make the results of their research freely available to the public domain, or.is this a for profit company that intends to patent their findings? If it is the latter I think the proper means of raising capital should be by selling stock or obtaining investment from private equity sources.

Posted by: JohnD at February 2nd, 2017 10:44 PM

Dear John,

Just as any research group, who would keep data confidential before they publish/patent the findings, so will we firstly patent and prepare peer-review publication before making it all publicly available. It would be silly of us, or anyone else be it for profit or non-profit, to release data before publication/patenting.

Many thanks
Mantas
CellAge

Posted by: Mantas Matjusaitis at February 3rd, 2017 2:01 AM

Dear Jim,

I would like to guide you to our videos which explain why we are different from Oisin. But in short: because we are developing a combinatory promoter which would be more specific and safer (by excluding all non-senescent cells) compared to best current alternative p16. This promoter will not only make better detection kits but will also help make better therapies, as you are right that we should focus funding on the therapy.

https://www.lifespan.io/campaigns/cellage-targeting-senescent-cells-with-synthetic-biology/

To answer your second question. Research groups have to focus their resources - Unity investigates small molecules, CellAge investigates promoters for gene therapy and assays. It is same as to say why aren't Roche (for example) focusing on senescent cells, if its such a big deal? Everyone cannot explore everything :)

Many Thanks
Mantas
CellAge

Posted by: Mantas Matjusaitis at February 3rd, 2017 2:08 AM

"because we are developing a combinatoric promoter which would be more specific and safer (by excluding all non-senescent cells) compared to best current alternative p16".

Exactly how would it be more specific and safer? Could you explain it mechanistically?

Posted by: Jim at February 3rd, 2017 2:58 AM

Dear Jim,

Please check our crowdfunding page video under "Solution" which explains it. But basically, accuracy = safety and you achieve accuracy by using multiple biomarkers at once (just like a researcher who is trying to prove that specific cell is senescent would need to use p16, SA-b-Gal and H2AX (for example) to get through a peer-review with their claim). We are constructing promoter which will take into consideration multiple biomarkers/promoters.

https://www.lifespan.io/campaigns/cellage-targeting-senescent-cells-with-synthetic-biology/

Many thanks
Mantas
CellAge

Posted by: Mantas Matjusaitis at February 3rd, 2017 5:09 AM

I'd say UNITY doesn't have much motivation to spend money on the assay space. They will be going through the standard regulatory system of trials for late stages of specific conditions, starting with inflammatory joint conditions like osteoarthritis, and in humans their outcomes will be measured by the standard metrics for the age-related conditions they'll be treating, not by fraction of cells cleared. They could go all the way to the clinic without raising a finger to improve assays of senescent cell count, so they probably will.

For Oisin, the motivation depends on whether or not they take the same standard regulatory path, I'd say. There's the need for assays to prove you did something immediately following treatment if selling into the medical tourism marketplace.

Posted by: Reason at February 3rd, 2017 9:25 AM

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