A collection of sixteen senior scientists have created an academy in Boston in order to showcase the important work currently being conducted on human aging and how researchers are developing ways to slow or even reverse it.
The Academy for Health and Lifespan Research is a nonprofit organization that will be organizing a series of forums at which researchers will share knowledge and research data, helping to improve the flow of information in this field.
The Academy will also be actively lobbying governments around the world to improve funding for aging research and to help improve regulatory pathways in ways that make it easier to develop therapies that target the aging processes in order to prevent age-related diseases.
Treating the cause of age-related diseases, not the symptoms
Current medicine uses an infectious disease model to treat diseases, but with age-related diseases, this is an exercise in futility. In other words, current medical approaches seek to deal with diseases as they appear, almost like a game of whack-a-mole; a disease pops up and medicine hammers it down only for another to pop up elsewhere, and the cycle repeats with ever-decreasing chances of success and ever-increasing costs.
Scientists are now moving towards the idea that to effectively treat age-related diseases, one must target the causes, not the symptoms, in order to cure them. This means that if we want to end age-related diseases, we must treat the causes of aging directly so that these diseases never develop in the first place. This field of science is called geroscience or, sometimes, rejuvenation biotechnology.
We are seeing this approach in the case of drugs known as senolytics, which target harmful senescent cells which accumulate as we get older. Senolytic drugs may help our body to destroy these unwanted senescent cells to improve tissue and organ repair and function to keep us healthy as we age. The results in mice have been very promising, and this approach is currently being translated for human use and is currently in multiple human trials.
Medicine and how we look at and treat aging are going to change
There has been a quiet revolution in the last decade in the labs that has gone largely unnoticed by the general public; progress in our understanding of the aging processes and what we might do about them has grown rapidly, and things have reached the point where the first interventions are reaching humans.
Dr. David Sinclair from Harvard Medical School is also one of the founders of the academy and is keen on promoting this important cause. Dr. Sinclair hopes that the Academy will help to bring the progress being made in the field to the attention of regulatory bodies, doctors, health insurers, and the public.
David Sinclair, Lenny Guarente, and David Setboun are some of the researchers involved in this venture, and the Academy is already engaging with government and regulatory authorities in various countries. They are aiming to host a series of scientific meetings starting in 2020 with the ultimate aim of creating a conference of world leaders and healthcare decision makers to help channel funding towards the development of aging-focused therapies.
The potential of treating aging directly to prevent age-related diseases is massive and has far-reaching ramifications for reducing healthcare costs and the burden that age-related diseases place on it, boosting productivity by keeping people healthy and contributing to society, and reducing the suffering that these conditions cause.
We welcome the news that the Academy for Health and Lifespan Research has been created and is openly supporting the drive to end age-related diseases by directly targeting the core reasons why we age. Medicine is set to change dramatically in the next decade or two, and the sooner it happens, the better; this is a step in that direction.