CellAge is one of the new initiatives arisen in recent years from our community of longevity science advocates and researchers. The principals are focused on the biology of senescent cells, and are attempting to apply the new technology of synthetic gene promoters in order to produce a better class of assay for cellular senescence in living tissue. This will test for amounts and types of senescent cell, improving upon the current standard approaches used in research, protocols that have been around for ten to twenty years and are by now showing their age. They are good enough for the sort of lab work that has taken place over that time, but certainly not good enough for the near future in which targeted removal of senescent cells becomes a widespread clinical therapy. This approach to the treatment of aging as a medical condition has great promise, but those therapies will certainly have to be accompanied by low-cost, reliable assays to assess exactly how well they work. I'm very much in favor of efforts to produce the next generation of cellular senescence assays, as this provides an important form of support for the companies that are presently working on senescent cell clearance approaches.
As I'm sure you'll recall, CellAge started out by crowdfunding their initial work via Lifespan.io. The aim of this first project, now underway, is to produce an improved assay for senescent cells that the company will release for free to the academic community. It was a challenging fundraiser, largely because of the timing, as our community had given a great deal to various other fundraisers over the course of 2016. It was stuck for quite some time half-way to the target. While that was the case, a few of us started to cast around for alternative sources of funding from the for-profit investment community, something always intended by the CellAge founders, just not quite so soon. Putting together a funding round for a very early stage company always takes longer than you think it will to reach a useful conclusion; it is something like herding cats, and a great deal more legally complicated than it needs to be, especially for the UK where CellAge is based. While this process was underway, the CellAge fundraiser came to a much more successful conclusion than hoped, thanks to the hard work of the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation volunteers and the generosity of a number of significant donors. Very gratifying!
Now, on top of that crowdfunding success, I'm pleased to note that the initial CellAge investment round has finally completed assembly, with one of the professional VCs in our community taking the lead and accomplishing the heavy lifting in organizational matters. Fight Aging! and a small group of other angel investors joined in, collectively stretching our available funds in order to give the CellAge founders the fuel they need to reach the next stage following their initial proof of concept work. The hope is that CellAge should have interesting things to demonstrate by the end of the year, and into 2018.
On this topic, it is worth noting that our community has few scientific entrepreneurs. Yet such entrepreneurs play a vital role in the path that leads from concept through research to realized therapy. I think it important that we do our part to assist those researchers who are willing and able to make the leap to successfully starting a company to carry forward their work. In the years ahead they will be the ones picking up new projects and helping to push new rejuvenation therapies from the laboratory to the clinic. They will be the ones employing the next generation of researchers and biotechnologists, inspiring them to make the same leap into medical development. For the SENS vision of human rejuvenation to succeed in the decades ahead, the SENS Research Foundation and its allies must have a diverse community of entrepreneurs to call upon, an important addition to the existing network of researchers and research groups. The CellAge team are first-time founders, but learn quickly, have a great background in the underlying science, and clearly have the right stuff to make a go of it. I'm happy to have been able to do a little to help them build their network and company.