This year's SENS Research Foundation winter fundraiser launches today, with a target of $250,000. Donations will support ongoing rejuvenation research programs at the SENS Research Foundation Research Center, as well as in laboratories at Yale, the Buck Institute, the Babraham Institute, and Oxford. The SENS Research Foundation continues to carefully unblock important but neglected fields of research that are relevant to repairing the cell and tissue damage that causes aging - you might take a look at the SENS timeline to see the past and presently ongoing success stories, in which charitable donations were used to move promising research from idea to demonstration to commercial development. A range of important research programs are still in the early stages or the middle of this process, and thus the more that we support these efforts, the faster the progress towards a comprehensive suite of rejuvenation therapies capable of turning back aging and age-related disease.
Following last year's model, Josh Triplett, Christophe and Dominique Cornuejols, and Fight Aging! have put together a $36,000 challenge fund for SENS Patrons. We will match the next year of donations for anyone who becomes a SENS Patron by signing up as a new monthly donor at the SENS Research Foundation between now and December 31st of this year. I invite you all to please put your best foot forward and help out. The SENS Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity, and donations are tax deductible, even in much of Europe, though the details are a little more complex, and vary by country. Tell a friend. Print out and put up one of our posters. Set up a fundraising exercise of your own - there are many ways to help out.
I might be just a touch biased on this topic, but to my eyes supporting this cause is truly effective altruism. Not just because aging is the greatest cause of pain, suffering, and death in the world - by a large margin, and the poor suffer the most, as is always the case - but because the SENS Research Foundation, and the Methuselah Foundation before it, have a proven track record when it comes to turning philanthropic donations for SENS research programs into concrete progress towards human rejuvenation.
Past charitable donors have seen a number of strategic investments in promising but underfunded research turn their donations into active commercial development efforts. For example: work on preventing the consequences of mitochondrial DNA damage, one of the root causes of aging, through allotopic expression of mitochondrial genes was funded with modest support starting back in 2008. That gave rise to Gensight, a company that now puts tens of millions of dollars into developing this technology. SENS programs that mined bacteria for enzymes capable of safely breaking down age-related metabolic waste have resulted in candidates for drug development that are licensed out to the LysoClear program to tackle age-related macular degeneration, and to human.bio for efforts to break down some of the harmful compounds that contribute to atherosclerosis. Further, efforts to remove the transthyretin amyloid connected to heart disease, using catalytic antibodies, have moved into a company for commercial development. More is on the way. This year, work on an important component of a universal cancer therapy, achieved through suppression of telomere lengthening, is being spun out, along with promising work on glucosepane cross-link breaking - one of the more important causes of the loss of tissue elasticity that damages skin and, more importantly, blood vessels.
The SENS Research Foundation has also funded research in cellular senescence in aging, and SENS advocates has persistently and actively fought for more funding for this line of development for fifteen years. This helped to bring to an end the long period during which the research community rejected this very important field of research. As senolytic therapies to clear senescent cells have finally blossomed into a suddenly popular area of development, the SENS Research Foundation helped to seed fund the startup Oisin Biotechnologies, working on a gene therapy approach to selectively destroy senescent cells and cancerous cells with minimal side-effects. That company is presently raising a new round of funding to take their work to the clinic.
As a final item to consider, remember that all of this exciting progress towards the end goal of effective human rejuvenation was built atop a modest starting point, that being the small, simple decisions of a few thousand people just like you and I: people who gave a small amount of money every month, such as the members of the Methuselah 300. It is because of these people, their conversations, and their dedication and vision, that the first SENS rejuvenation research programs took place at all. It is because of these people that high net worth individuals such as Peter Thiel, Michael Greve, and Jim Mellon have been drawn to the field to provide significant material support. We make a difference. We are the leaders, we are the people carrying the lantern to light the way. Because of our efforts, the world will be a better place tomorrow, one in which being old doesn't have to mean being sick, frail, and faltering.