Optimism without Complacency in the Matter of Rejuvenation Research

In this article, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation volunteers offer thoughts on the middle road for expectations regarding the near future of research and development in longevity science. There are all too many people who are either overly pessimistic or overly optimistic. While it is true that the optimists of today are not in the same terrible position as the optimists of the last generation, who completely misjudged the scope of what was possible via pharmaceutical approaches to aging, it is still the case that a great deal must be accomplished in order to bring effective rejuvenation biotechnologies to the clinic. There is too little funding for many of the necessary areas of work based on the SENS vision of damage repair, and even in very well-supported and active fields such as cancer and stem cell research, comparatively little effort goes towards the most effective approaches. So while we can look back at considerable progress made in past years towards the realization of SENS-like rejuvenation therapies, and the clinical development of the first line of such therapies in the form of senolytics is forging ahead, the work has in many ways only just started.

In the last year or so we have seen remarkable progress with a number of interventions that target the aging processes to prevent and treat age-related diseases. There is plenty to be excited about, and with all this good news recently it is tempting to become overly optimistic. I have seen a significant number of people suggest that everything will be fine now, because the first technologies are starting to arrive in the repair based approach to aging, but this is a dangerous mindset to fall into. We should not think we are close to bringing the aging processes under medical control. The metabolism of the human body is a highly complex interconnected machine and anyone with an understanding of biology understands that controlling this complexity is likely the work of decades if not longer. However, there is an approach that seeks to sidestep this complexity - rejuvenation biotechnology.

Rejuvenation biotechnology is a multi-disciplinary field of science whose aim is the prevention and reversal of age-related diseases by targeting the aging processes that cause them. This is a dramatic deviation from traditional medicine and in particular geriatrics which aims to treat the consequences, often by attempting to tweak metabolism far downstream from the actual root causes, rather than prevent it happening in the first place by focusing on where the damage begins. This traditional approach of treating the symptoms and not the cause is an approach doomed to fail, and considering people continue to die from age-related diseases it is time to admit that this approach has been a spectacular failure. Repairing the underlying damage, whilst itself not trivial, is considerably less complex than attempting to tweak metabolism or treating the consequences as traditional geriatrics does. Regardless of how you categorize the damages of aging, be it the seven damages model of SENS or the Hallmarks of Aging model, they are much the same and both advocate the repair approach to aging. The damage repair approach is becoming a realistic goal in the next couple of decades and that is very good news indeed.

Some parts of the damage repair approach are now far advanced and enjoying a great deal of attention and hype in the media. But there are a number of approaches to damage that are yet to reach this level of attention. Because aging comprises of a number of interlinked but distinct processes, addressing only one or two of them is unlikely to yield significant increases in healthy lifespan. This is confirmed in rodent experiments where a single damage has been addressed. We see increased lifespans as a result of addressing these hallmarks of aging and a delay of age-related diseases, which is the aim of rejuvenation biotechnology. And yet, these animals ultimately still die of the age-related damages that are not being addressed. Believing that addressing just one form of damage will make a dramatic difference puts us in serious danger of becoming overly optimistic and thus complacent. Quite simply, there are no magic bullets.

At the risk of stating the completely obvious: we should be focusing the greatest efforts now on the areas where progress is the least advanced. We need to help these approaches that are lagging behind catch up with the rest that are more advanced. Areas like crosslink breaking, mitochondrial gene transfer and the destruction of misfolded proteins are all areas that are in need of support. As it stands these and other critical research areas that are needed to realize full medical control of the aging processes to address age-related diseases are yet to reach a proof-of-concept stage. That leaves the basic science and early-stage development of these technologies entirely in the hands of philanthropy.

Link: http://www.leafscience.org/optimistic-but-not-complacent/

Comments

I believe that once senolytics proves its worth in humans, the floodgates of funding and public interest are going to open way up; likely much greater funding for the other SENS fundamentals.

I also predict religious fundamentalists will be bombing research clinics. You know, "it's against God or Nature or something". Or at least the ethically challenged field of "bioethics" will be raising all kinds of hell.

Posted by: bmack500 at August 4th, 2017 12:21 PM

I wonder if that striking study with hair repigmentation actually killed senescent cells in the hair follicles. After all hydrogen peroxide is a big component in greying hair
http://www.uni-mainz.de/eng/13060.php
and it's also responsible for immune signalling
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ah/2012/541471/
so it's not far fetched to assume that some inflammation signalling cells were killed in the process. If that's the case that means these cells were protected from the immune system before treatment and the treatment released that protection.

Posted by: Matthias F at August 4th, 2017 1:03 PM

@bmack500

I think you're largely right. Especially on the part about the fundamentalists and the whole "it's against god and nature" nonsense. I think you're spot on about the bioethics part of it as well. It's going to be a lot of "something, something, something more inequality!" mixed in with the usual concerns of overpopulation and resources, pensions, stagnation, along with telling you how you're selfish for wanting to live a longer and healthier life. I'm fairly skeptical in the sense that if there is something proven to work in humans, it won't be available in the "western" world any time soon. I get the bad feeling that this is going to end up turning into the debates over abortion, only much, much more heated.

Posted by: Ham at August 4th, 2017 1:37 PM

I have already experienced opposition. Im from Norway. I received an anonymous mail from a son of a priest. The reason I know it was him I haven't time to write. Im an organ transplant recipient and after supporting MFoundation I got a mail: "Idiot aren't you dead yet."

Posted by: Norse at August 4th, 2017 4:08 PM

I think the opposition from religious groups will be mild once visible changes are obvious. From my experience they'll change their tone pretty quickly when they see how much younger their friends look. "Look at how God blessed me and restored my hair color!"

Posted by: Corbin at August 4th, 2017 4:08 PM

I think the religious opposition to life extension is largely a non-issue. After all, in Isaiah Chapter 65 it says in the distant future it says "no longer will people be considered old at 100, only the cursed will die that young! For my people will live as long as trees". Trees can live over 1000 years. So it is just a matter of educating these religious zealots of what the Bible really says.

Posted by: Biotechy at August 4th, 2017 5:59 PM

Religious fanatics are a minority. They will be silenced one way or another shall they attempt to impose their fairytales on us.

Posted by: Spede at August 4th, 2017 6:23 PM

@Norse

Hi Norse ! I apologize for not replying sooner (I was gone and had no computer access for the week), I apologize for others whom wrote me too (thank you for your comments/questions).

''@CANonymity: I became more interested on your country after reading the article below. I always knew that unlike the US you have a welfare state and are more like the nordic countries. Are Canada good for biotech? Where and how to invest?''

Yes, definitely.
Major cities (just like US ones, New York city, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley in California). Here, in Canada, it's Montreal (and its close surroundings), Toronto or Vancouver (and you can add Quebec city). There are few others in between but not enough biotech; currently, Montreal is the best place (and Laval (sister island)), Toronto 2nd. Vancouver also holds itself, there is Ottawa too; but there again it'S too small biotech business.
So you would want to invest in Montreal/Laval/Montreal-Region Surroundings biotech ((in Quebec province) where I live)), or Toronto or Vancouver's. AS to how to invest, I'm not sure but
I would recommend as a starting point:
1- http://www.biotech.ca/
There are many biocompanies here and though most may be obscure to anyone outside Canada; they do have their share of contribution to the world's biotech advancement/progress. At least 10% of all new biotech research is from Canada (it might sound nothing, but remember we are 10-times less population then USA, so we makeup quick in proportions/contribution *try making miracles with only 35million people...). STill, it's nothing really, the USA are the ultimate contributor right now, along Europe and Asia). It,s also why, US and Canada run a special parallel 'tightship' and aggreements to speed up biotech (like Canadian and American exchanges/set ups), we need each other (you might say Canada needs more US than US needs Canaada, and that's true but let's not forget teh contributions on both sides of the border. We work on our own/alone and together/co-dependent and independent; which is great as there is mutual admiration and always will be (for we are neighbors since forever, for some, even cousins (since there were many Canada and USA diaspora to CAnada or to USA, USA -> Canada, Canada -> USA)).

I'm guessing it'S about the same for Norway too (like with other countries very close, Sweden, Finland,..)?

- On another note. About this text here,

I fully agree with everyone, we have to be capable of separating the religion from the science; and the science rom the religion. There will be many people whom will oppose the rejuvenation endeavor; especially, zealots and or, as said, religious fanatics. I also fear this kind of extreme violence that could happen from said opponents to these projects. It's all Ethics once again. I think, though, it's unfair that they do that because we don't chastitize them for having beliefs and having a religion; yet they would want to destroy our plans to change - certain - people - willing. To give them the possibility of very long Health and Lifespan.
I think people are, sometimes, full of it... and love to 'revel' in double standards, double dippin, Two-Timin, play Two-Face, Opportunistic when it fits personal agenda only, so yes a sin (a religious thing actually), a sin called hypocrisy. So, for example, it would be OK for them to practice their religion but not ok for us to practice life extension - because for them it doesn,t fit with their religion....Hmm me think something is not fair here. We don't run them over with bulldozers saying : ''F U and ur yourreligion, I roll over you and It. Goodbye...''.
No we live in 'harmony' we try at least. But, sadly, morally 'superior' or 'Ethically superior' people aka the more religious ones (zealot) and/or the science-haters...'Pro-Life and Anti-Abortion', will put heavy slowdown on the plans to END AGING AND DEATH...damn, you could write a 500 page book and they would STill not be convinced it is FOR THE BETTER...but for the worse in their mind.
Oh well. : ) Who said life was fair (...no one).

Posted by: CANanonymity at August 4th, 2017 9:30 PM

I foresee a lot of interesting infighting within the religious community. Think about it... the biggest promise of religion is "Eternal Life". Once we get the technology, what does SENS offer? Well.. its not immortality, but its the next closest thing. Expect them to feel VERY threatened. Truthfully, I expect their numbers to drop... why settle for the unproven when there will be thousands of people walking around rejuvenated?

Posted by: Mark Borbely at August 4th, 2017 9:36 PM

"Truthfully, I expect their numbers to drop... why settle for the unproven when there will be thousands of people walking around rejuvenated?"

Because those who believe in invisible people in the sky will tell you the rejuvenated are "damned" i.e. are bound for an invisible place somewhere under the earth (exact address not provided.) Arguments that there are over 5000 religions in the world and AT MOST only one of them can be correct don't work with these people btw. Argue with them at your own risk.

Posted by: John S. at August 5th, 2017 4:16 AM

Like I said before, I do think that there will be some religious opposition to this, including some that will eventually trickle its way into politics. Especially here in the US. But I think most of the opposition will come when there are treatments specifically for aging itself. As in, not using something like senescent cell clearance in a specific part of the body for a specific condition. When it comes to the full rejuvenation process and treating aging itself is when I think you'll get the uproar from the 'bioethicists'. After all, they seem to like to decide things and tell people what they can and can't do more than anyone. It's not like most of the general public is on board with this yet, nor are many 'bioethicists', so to me, it doesn't seem like it would something particularly hard to ban or significantly delay. At least in the west. Just my .02 though. Hopefully I'm off the mark.

Posted by: Ham at August 5th, 2017 7:00 AM

@CANonymity: I already know about that URL. I read that an IPO are 70% cheaper in Israel than US. Biotech are cheaper in EU and Nordic countries (uniQURE), which developed the first gene editing product but the US counterpart got popular. I think the same would be for Canadian biotech. Do you have a list over top 10 largest cap bt native canadian companies or an ETF?

Posted by: Norse at August 5th, 2017 10:44 AM

@Norse

I apologize, I don't know much of company investing/stock market but maybe you can find an answer

1-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_public_companies_in_Canada_by_profit
2-http://www.etfinsight.ca/

I read that Norway is currently the Number 1 country to live on the planet (lowest crime, lowest poverty, welfare for all, free school for all, fair tax, clean, beautiful nature, isolated, free hospital ? and free rejuvenation, maybe ? etc (I'm generalizing of course))
what is your POV ? Because you said you are organ-transplant recipient patient 'in waiting' for an organ (or I read wrong ?...), is then the medical services not adequate and/or finding organs (that are not rejected by the body) is nigh impossible anywhere..how do you survive without it

Posted by: CANanonymity at August 5th, 2017 3:54 PM

Correct description of norway, however our jails are full of asylants from ME so that about crime is not true. I read canada took in 20.000 syrians. Good. In norway a politician wanted 100.000. I think the welfare state or Nordic model are a far better performer over the long run than the US. However what I like with US is they are far better in startups and entrepreneurship. In my city Kristiansand, largest city south the largest immigration group is from US. I spoke with a plumber. He told that wages are higher in Norway. The 2nd largest group are from poland. And afro-americans faces no racism. In my neighbourhood 3 are in relationship with an african and 2 of the couples have children. If you haven't get a chance, second chance or third... or are sleeping in the street, which I've read in papers millions of americans are homeless! Crazy, we say here. You should definitely travel to norway. and its an extremely easy language to learn. Much in common with english. however we aren't as strong in biotech as i wish we were.

Posted by: Norse at August 5th, 2017 4:37 PM

@CAN: Im not waiting, have been transplanted. I think norway are no 3 when donating organs/transplanting. US 1st spain 2nd. I survive with immunosuppressants, cyclosporin discovered at Hardangervidden in norway. I donate 1000 NOK to Solving Organ Shortage (SOS) and Organ Preservation Alliance (OPA) every month and have filed my testament with SOS. i also like spain when it comes to biotech. liberal legislation. and they are good at integrating roma people.

Posted by: Norse at August 5th, 2017 4:44 PM

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.