Profiling the Work of the SENS Research Foundation
The SENS Research Foundation is focused on enabling progress in neglected areas of science that can be applied to the development of rejuvenation therapies. The SENS rejuvenation research program is based on periodic repair of the forms of cell and tissue damage that are known to lie at the root of aging, damage that accumulates over time and is caused by the normal operation of metabolism. Aging is damage, rejuvenation is repair. The SENS agenda singled out senescent cell clearance as a desirable course of action a decade in advance of the first animal studies that provided convincing proof, and twenty years ahead of the first human trials of senolytic drugs to clear senescent cells in old humans. There is a great track record here, not only in identifying the right research strategies, but also in enabling progress in parts of the field that were languishing.
Despite time, energy and money being poured into age-related disease research around the world, humans are yet to find cures for illnesses such as Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. SENS Research Foundation believes this is because current research is approaching the problem from the wrong angle.
Our vision is a world in which people do not decline in physical or mental health as they get older. We believe it is possible to create medicines that will restore the molecular and cellular structure and composition of the body of a middle-aged (or older) person to something like it was when they were a young adult. That amounts to repairing the damage that has accumulated in their bodies as intrinsic side-effects of the body's normal operation. We have known for decades what types of damage there are that eventually contribute to the health problems of late life; therefore, all (!) that is needed is to develop damage-repair therapies that can eliminate them. And that's what we do. The development of some of those therapies has progressed far enough that we have been able to spin the projects out as startup companies, and it's likely that most of them will be in the clinic within a couple of years.
SENS relates to all the types of damage we accumulate, and it does not take a position concerning which type of damage is more important than which other type. The right way to describe what SENS is is that it is an engineering proposal for how to manipulate nature, rather than a scientific hypothesis for how nature works in the first place. The Foundation's strategy to prevent and reverse age-related ill-health is to apply the principles of regenerative medicine to repair the damage of aging at the level where it occurs. We are developing a new kind of medicine: regenerative therapies that remove, repair, replace, or render harmless the cellular and molecular damage that has accumulated in our tissues with time. By reconstructing the structured order of the living machinery of our tissues, these rejuvenation biotechnologies will restore the normal functioning of the body's cells and essential biomolecules.
At our Research Center we have two main projects right now. One is devoted to repairing mutant mitochondria, by inserting genes into cells that will provide the proteins that the mitochondria can no longer make. The other project is exploring two new ways to eliminate senescent cells, cells that have switched into a damaging state and that the body wants to kill off but cannot. We also rent out space to one of our spin-out companies, Underdog Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a way to extract the oxidised cholesterol from arteries and thereby revert atherosclerosis (a disease of the arteries characterised by the deposition of fatty material on their inner walls). We are always reviewing our range of projects, and we may have a new project starting in a couple of months that will explore the elimination of a particular type of waste product in the brain.
The people who work at SENS are heroes. One can only wish them the best at their scientific and personal endeavors. Their genius will enhance the lives of all of us.
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