The Open Longevity Initiative Works Towards Organization of Trials

I noted the existence of the Open Longevity initiative earlier this month. This is an evolution of the core Russian-language longevity science community, involved in the Science for Life Extension Foundation and related advocacy initiatives. The members of that community have been building bridges to the European and US longevity science communities for a decade now, aided by progress in automated translation technologies and the growing prospects for therapies that can meaningful treat the causes of aging. Collectively, we've reached the point at which meaningful treatments are almost at the clinic; it is the time to move beyond talking to helping ensure that these treatments enter trials and become available as soon as possible.

Open Longevity is explicitly structured as an organization of patients, for patients: people who want to treat aging as the medical condition it is, and are willing to organize and participate in medical trials to push forward the state of the art. The present sad situation in medical regulation and the mainstream aging research community is that near all efforts that could be achieved now, this year, if people just went out and did the work, will never happen. No-one will test combinations of the non-chemotherapeutic senolytic drugs; no-one will try building a better polypill for reducing cardiovascular disease; and so on. Within the commercial and regulatory arena, the best that can be hoped for is narrow trials of a single drug candidate for the late stage of age-related disease, which is the goal that UNITY Biotechnology is aiming for with their senolytic treatments.

It is self-evident that better results than this can be achieved by ignoring the FDA and its Western European counterparts, given a bunch of people willing to put in the work and some funding, and who are sufficiently well organized to avoid the pitfalls of self-delusion that tend to beset more amateur citizen science efforts in medicine. Setting up responsible, transparent trials of treatments isn't rocket science, just hard work, and it certainly isn't something that only government organizations can achieve. I'm fairly certain that our broader community is capable of generating such an effort, I hope to see it happen in the years ahead in the matter of senolytic therapies, and indeed, I've written on this topic in past years.

The Open Longevity volunteers look like they are heading in the right sort of direction, for all that they are starting out with potential treatments that I'm not much in favor of spending time on - the standard panoply of calorie restriction mimetics and the like. Taking an incremental approach seems sensible, however, and it is developing the ability to organize and produce unbiased results that is important here, not the particular therapies used as the initial testbeds. Our community and the companies working on therapies have a great need for one or more organizations that can reliably deliver trials and medical tourism outside the present regulatory system as a service, and such an organization would help to greatly speed up progress towards widespread availability of the first rejuvenation therapies. On this note, the following turned up in my in-box earlier this week:

Starting on March 29th in Kotor, Montenegro, the first Longevity School is being held, organized by the patients' organization Open Longevity. The purpose of our organization is to carry out clinical trials of therapies against aging. We are determined to create the best possible therapies based on all achievements of science and considering individual approach. Recently we've started to organize clinical trials of a new type, based on the principles of openness, with a non-commercial approach, and aiming for continuous improvement of the effectiveness of interventions under trial. We believe that by not focusing on opportunities to capitalize the cure for old age, and by immediately publishing the results of clinical experiments, we will achieve a higher level of expertise. The protection of scientific advances by patents and trial data by secrecy leads to a lack of exploration of the potential reuse of existing therapies for new purposes, since it is impossible to ensure sufficient freedom to use the results.

The first task of the Longevity School in Montenegro is to raise the level of knowledge of the participating patients. For this matter, we will conduct 67 lectures on the biology of aging with a final exam. Our goal is to establish cooperation, a dialogue between patients, doctors, and scientists to achieve the common goal of radical life extension. Second, we will start testing a fasting mimicking diet, which aims to reduce the level of insulin-like growth factor 1 in humans. The third step is the preparation of clinical trials protocols for testing combinations of anti-aging interventions. We will have five roundtable discussions to come up with the best strategy. In doing so, our goal is not just to confirm or deny effectiveness of a drug or a combination of drugs. We will not stop at testing of a minor drug candidate like metformin. Our goal is to constantly increase the power of interventions, adapting it to the current situation and health conditions. That is why one of the tasks for Open Longevity project is to implement aging diagnostics into clinical practice.

The first Longevity School will be held from 29 March to 7 April. The Montenegro school is our first one, but we will systematically run Longevity Schools on all continents to engage millions of people into the common cause of life extension. We are moving from simple to complex, from diet to gene therapy, until aging is defeated.

Comments

So they will be basically using aging biomarkers for their trials, it isn't? How much does one have to wait until current biomarkers (methylation patterns, etc.) show statistically significant results of success/failure of the trial?

Posted by: Antonio at April 1st, 2017 5:12 AM

I mean, suppose you use a senolytic drug and it removes half your senescent cells. Probably, methylation patterns of your white cells will not change immediately. How much does one have to wait after senescent cell removal until your epigenome reacts to it?

Posted by: Antonio at April 1st, 2017 5:19 AM

> How much does one have to wait until current biomarkers (methylation patterns, etc.) show statistically significant results of success/failure of the trial?

They won't use methylation patterns. They will measure artery thickness via ultrasound and the level of certain proteins. You can find this information on their home page (Google translator is your friend).

> How much does one have to wait after senescent cell removal until your epigenome reacts to it?

My guess is nobody knows. So you might consider a cell count of senescent cells instead. A human operator could do that in 5 minutes per test.

Posted by: Matthias F at April 1st, 2017 8:59 AM

Oh, thanks!

Posted by: Antonio at April 1st, 2017 10:16 AM

@Antonio - I can think of one other way of measuring the effect of a senolytic drug, before and after skin tissue punches which are then analysed for senescent cell content percentage.

Posted by: Jim at April 1st, 2017 11:14 AM

@Jim: I have some concern that that is going to produce distorted results because of the role of senescence in wound healing.

Posted by: Reason at April 1st, 2017 11:32 AM

Unfortunately, this article appears to unreasonably credit human nature and the current socio-political climate as being amenable to the sharing and support of a type of knowledge that would first benefit the hyper-narcissistic/driven individual (and likely their personal/ religious/political community) and then, only possibly but likely eventually, benefit society as a whole - which is fine, such as it is with all personal-enriching technologies.
Truisms:
- Individuals, in general, are lazy, greedy, and stupid, though not evil - and it is not their fault - it is a function of the environment in which they were raised, schooled, and employed. Others may call these flaws optimization-seeking, self-interest, and new-knowledge-averse - but these are euphemisms. These are the 'individuals' who will be the future researchers, clinic participants, supporters, and customers - they will not willingly-selflessly work, share, and participate over any period of time when future results are unclear and less-than-promising, while sacrificing quality of life and self-promotion.
- nations outside of the G7 are generally corrupt, hypocritical, and save-face-preoccupied, though not evil - and it is not their fault - it is the function of the demographic of the 'individuals' (as defined above) as they live, work, and play (and protest/ terrorize and feel envy towards G7 populations) within their political areas of influence.
- government institutions within the G7 are generally risk-averse, poorly-motivated, and visionless, though not strictly incompetent - and it is not their fault - it is the function of the demographic of the 'individuals' (as defined above) as they work and research (and protest and pension-watch and play-internal-politics and feel resentment towards G7 populations) within their areas of influence.
--
What is to be made, then, of these apparently-insurmountable odds against the widespread success for such controversial life-enriching technology such as anti-ageing procedures/ treatments? What is needed to harvest visionless biotech-individuals; overcome worldwide selfish corruption but research-positive (of a sort) environments within non-G7 nations that would more likely self-enrich, hoard, and play politics with the treatments (easy ageing treatments would be as politically-inflammatory as nuclear weapon tech) ; and government institutional systems bent on short-term widespread solving behaviour-induced (mostly) illnesses?? Easy. Transnational visionary corporo-like-entities that work throughout the world and are too popular, visible, and minimally-political to be crushed by any of the 3 big Obstacles (Individuals, non-g7 countries, govt institutions) - WITH A CHARISMATIC, TECHNO-SAVVY, POLITICALLY-NEUTRAL, RELATABLE (though monied) FIGURE-HEAD/ VISIONARY/ LEADER - like Elon Musk/ Bezos/ Branson - with a vision that is not intended to be a save-the-world or else idea. A vision that affirms people's craving for a sensual and pleasure-seeking life (freedom from pain and disease is not pleasure-seeking per se, though it may achieve the same ends). Combine this with excellence awards, competition with government agencies (per the genome competition), and regular headline presence to get a self-motivating 'force'. Google's health arm lacks project-popular vision and the figure-head leader. Aubrey deGrey comes across as arrogant, self-righteous, and elitist-ideological. Venter's firms do not appeal to popular science crowds frequently enough. Al Gore does not have widespread enough political support. Bill Gates has become absorbed with localized populations' problems. Bottom line: find your lobby, figurehead, and focussed research-tech base.

Posted by: Jer at April 1st, 2017 2:06 PM

"a type of knowledge that would first benefit the hyper-narcissistic/driven individual"

"and then, only possibly but likely eventually, benefit society as a whole"

WTF???

Do you seriously think that preventing the single most important cause of death in the world (70 % of all deaths globally and 95 % in developed countries) is primarily narcissism and very secondarily a benefit for society??

Do you really think that the people in this community are primarily concerned about how they look instead of about saving their lives and the lives of their loved ones??

And I will avoid commenting about the G7/non-G7 prejudices/xenophobia...

Posted by: Antonio at April 1st, 2017 2:40 PM

Ideologies need figureheads. We're not trying to create an ideology, we're trying to kickstart an industry. It seems to me that is under way quite nicely.

Off the top of my head I can come up with very few reasons for us to need any lobby in any country - safe for the radically religious ones. And I'd personally prefer to leave that to the local population.

Posted by: Anonymoose at April 1st, 2017 5:15 PM

@Reason - Yeah but the diameter of the punch might mitigate things, if you are only examining the tissue with the punch, not on the 'wounded' edges. Although this is only a layperson's guess.

I'm also wondering if there is value in a parallel project to treat dogs with these interventions?

Posted by: Jim at April 2nd, 2017 11:22 AM

It would be good to increase the lifespan of dogs, especially the working dogs. Because of age related diseases, caused by intensive breeding practices, increasing their lifespans would be a one treatment cure all. Removing damaging mutations, with gene editing, and alterations to the mitochondria, to make them less prone to damage would also be worth doing.

Posted by: Tj Green at April 4th, 2017 3:04 AM

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