Happy autumn—or spring, if you live in the southern hemisphere! Be as it may, in a post-aging world, the season of your health would always be summer; let’s see how much closer we got to that world during last September.
To get things started, the new episode of the Rejuvenation Roundup podcast is available today.
Highlight: The NAD+ Mouse Project on Lifespan.io
On September 18, we launched the NAD+ Mouse Project—a crowdfunding campaign to finance a mouse study by the Sinclair lab at Harvard University. The study involves testing the NAD+ precursor NMN on normally aged mice and accelerated-aging mice in order to confirm the anti-aging benefits that were previously demonstrated in smaller-scale studies by the same laboratory; this could take us one step closer to human clinical trials for NMN as a therapy against aging.
Thus far, the campaign has been a smashing success; much to our astonishment, 50% of the campaign goal was reached within the first 48 hours, collecting over $15,000 out of $30,000! We are extremely thankful to all donors for their prompt reaction, and a special shout-out goes to David Chambers and James Johnson, whose very generous contributions pushed the meter through the roof!
Having crossed the 10K threshold, the double matching fund by two kind, anonymous donors has been unlocked; this brought in an additional $20,000, making the NAD+ Mouse Project our first campaign to achieve success within a few days of its launch! We take this as a sign that the tide is turning and that awareness of the aging problem, as well as the potential to solve it within a relatively short time frame, is rising.
The collected funds currently stand at nearly $40,000, pushing the stretch goal of $45,000. Stretch goals will allow the Sinclair team to perform a longer, more thorough study—so more donations are absolutely welcome, even though the main goal has already been reached.
Once again, we thank everyone helping us build a world free of age-related diseases—be it through donations, volunteering, raising awareness, or any other way. You’re true heroes!
Team and activities
Lifespan-X event in Leiden. As you might remember, in the last roundup, we mentioned that an independently organized event in support of Lifespan.io—a Lifespan-X event—was going to be held in September in the Netherlands. Indeed, the talk “A Cure for Aging: Where Do We Stand Today?” took place on September 29 in Leiden, held by philosopher and bioethicist Tatjana Kochetkova; we should have a report about the event soon, so keep an eye on the blog.
Out for a coffee with Death. On September 21, our Outreach Director Elena Milova attended an unusual event: Death Cafe. Death Cafe is a place where people are encouraged to discuss everything related to death over a cup of coffee with cake. Started by sociologists and people dealing with the terminally ill, this initiative has rapidly spread around the globe: more than 7000 meetings were held since 2011. After listening to people’s stories and telling her own story of joining the movement for healthy life extension, Elena believes that there is a potential for synergy: people attending Death Cafe seem much more receptive to the idea of ending aging by medical means. You can read more in Elena’s recent article about her visit.
Lifespan.io conference. Last month, we have published another video from our conference held in New York City last July; the video is a talk from Dr. Stephen Hilbert from Oisìn Biotechnologies, discussing the company’s SENSOlytic technology for senescent cell ablation and cancer treatment. You can watch it on our YouTube channel as well as on our conference page.
Lifespan.io campaign updates
We’ve received some updates from the team leaders of three of our previous campaign—the historical MitoSENS campaign, which marked the launch of our crowdfunding platform; the MMTP campaign, our first project on senolytics; and the CellAge campaign, our fourth campaign and our second one focused on senescent cell clearance technology.
The MitoSENS researchers report that they’ve improved upon their allotopic expression technique for mitochondrial genes, allowing the expression of more genes—in the paper that resulted from the study funded on Lifespan.io, only two mitochondrial genes could be successfully expressed allotopically; also, the original MitoSENS campaign is soon to going have a baby sister! Make sure to keep an eye on Lifespan.io in the coming months. If you want to know more on MitoSENS, check out this podcast interview of the head of MitoSENS, Dr. Matthew O’Connor, by LongeCity.
The researchers at CellAge let us know that they’ve began looking for new senescent cell promoters together with Circularis; being able to identify these promoters might lead to better detection techniques to seek and destroy senescent cells, which is what CellAge is after.
Good luck to the three teams! We look forward to hearing from them again.
Advocacy on LEAF
Paywall: The Business of Scholarship. LEAF doesn’t advocate only for rejuvenation biotechnologies, we also advocate open science—a crucial factor that, if lacking, might seriously slow down research in general and aging research in particular. Most of the world’s research papers are currently behind paywalls; that is, if you want access to the papers, you need to pay, and quite a pretty penny at that, despite the fact that technically, as a taxpayer, you’ve already paid for the research and it would be only logical to expect that you have free access to it. This huge problem has been brought to public attention by initiatives such as Sci-Hub, which allows people to circumvent paywalls and grants access to innumerable otherwise locked-up papers, and the documentary Paywall: The Business of Scholarship—a freely available movie that discusses how this huge business endangers science and the diffusion of knowledge. LEAF has had the privilege to contribute original footage to this movie as well as to produce a Russian version of it. The documentary premiered on September 5th, and it will be screened in several countries in the coming months.
The Status Quo of Aging. One of the biggest challenges faced by rejuvenation biotechnologies is that they question the status quo, the very way we’ve been going about life since pretty much day one. This conservatism is going to be hard to eradicate, but the reward will be well worth all the effort.
We had a number of great interviews last month, starting with Methuselah Foundation‘s founder, David Gobel. On the off chance the name don’t ring a bell, Methuselah Foundation is a charity that has been funding and advocating for rejuvenation biotechnology research since the early 2000s; Dave’s interview was a long, thorough, and insightful one on the state and progress of rejuvenation research, speculative timeframes for research translation, the story of the foundation, and more—it’s well worth a read!
Michael Bonkowski, a member of Dr. David Sinclair’s NAD+ Mouse Project team, also kindly granted us an interview in which he delved into the details of NAD+ biology, the study to be funded through our current campaign, the innovative ICE mouse model that the team has engineered, and more. Be sure to check it out, and maybe consider heading over to the campaign page to help us reach the next goal, if you haven’t done so already!
As we age, our reservoir of stem cells depletes; this phenomenon, known as stem cell exhaustion, is one of the reasons we age. While losing stem cells is really bad news for your health, as it can lead to a variety of age-related ailments, the good news is that the field of stem cell research is one of the most advanced and well-funded. For example, a human clinical trial of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to treat heart disease will begin next year in Japan; it follows a similar clinical application against macular degeneration, which also took place in Japan.
Addressing the stem cell exhaustion hallmark will also be necessary for the sake of brain health, as neural stem cell activity declines with age; interestingly, a recent study discussed on FA! found out that enhancing lysosomal activity improves neural stem cell function, which once again hints at how aging is basically an intricate web woven by the interaction of several phenomena (lysosomal dysfunction being another one). Stem cells are also crucial to the immune system; indeed, innate immune cells are also generated by hematopoietic stem cells as part of the hematopoiesis process. If you’re curious about this, this article on Fight Aging! might be interesting.
A recently published review discussed cellular senescence and senolytics, covering topics such as methods to target clear unwanted senescent cells as well as the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) and its implications for human cancer. Especially if you are new to the subject and would like to learn more, this paper might interest you.
Like most hallmarks of aging, cellular senescence is involved in a wide range of pathologies, and for this reason, researchers all over the world are studying the best methods to identify and eliminate senescent cells; an entire association—the International Cell Senescence Association (ICSA)—exists for that very purpose, and it has recently held a meeting, which you can read about here. A broader view of the field of senotherapeutics, which encompasses all strategies to reduce the senescent cell burden, can be found in a paper briefly discussed here.
Gene therapy without autoimmunity. It might be not immediately clear that gene therapy is accompanied by an autoimmune reaction; but it is to be expected, because adding or modifying genes means that a different protein begins to be produced by your body—one that your immune system has never seen before, which is enough for the protein to be blacklisted and attacked. However, Stanford scientists may recently have figured out a way to have the cake and eat it too—as we reported here, they were able to administer gene therapy to mice without triggering an autoimmune reaction.
A discussion of AGEs. Advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs, are really nasty chemicals—they are thought to be responsible for the stiffening of our tissues, most notably arteries, as well as one of the drivers of age-related chronic inflammation. AGEs are part of the loss of proteostasis hallmark, as they are essentially glycated proteins that the body can’t break down. Recently, the Buck Institute for Research on Aging published an article on the inflammatory nature of AGEs; you might like to take a look at it as well as Reason’s thoughts on the subject.
Introduction to mitochondrial dysfunction on LEAF. Mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the nine hallmarks of aging; as we get older, free radicals produced by the mitochondria themselves end up harming mitochondrial DNA. You can learn more about how this happens and how we might go about fixing it by reading our recent article on the matter.
M Fund closes funding round successfully. Methuselah Foundation’s venture fund, Methuselah Funds, LLC (M Fund) successfully completed an initial funding round, as reported by the official press release. M Fund, an accelerator program for rejuvenation biotech startups, includes a number of promising companies in its portfolio, such as Leucadia and Oisín.
Covalent Bioscience expands patent portfolio. Two patents by Covalent Bioscience, a company working on catalytic antibodies against different amyloid proteins and even HIV, have recently been approved in both the US and Europe. The company has recently been networking with angel investors and participating in several anti-aging conferences—including LEAF’s Ending Age-Related Diseases.
A strong positive correlation between life expectancy and productivity. According to a recent study published by the International Longevity Centre in the UK, greater life expectancy is correlated with greater economic productivity. This suggests that the advent of rejuvenation biotechnology to undo the damage of aging may actually bring economic benefits, rather than exacerbate existing crises as some people fear.
Role models vastly more likely to be older people. By employing a very large dataset of more than 1.5 million questionnaires, Northwestern University scientists managed to identify four distinct personality types—average, reserved, self-centered, and role model. The four types are based on five widely accepted personality traits, namely neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Particularly, the role model personality type, which scores low in neuroticism and high in all the other traits, is typical of dependable and open-minded people. Data analysis shows that the likelihood of someone being a role model increases dramatically with age. This suggests that concerns that rejuvenation biotechnology might lead to a conservative, gerontocratic society may well be unjustified.
Life extension on Forbes Africa. The science and possibility of life extension was recently presented in a positive light by Forbes Africa writer Ancillar Mangena, who correctly acknowledges the benefits that would be derived from defeating aging and extending our healthy, productive lives. The article features the opinion of several experts, such as Dr. Susan Coetzer, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, and LEAF Vice President Dr. Oliver Medvedik.
Coming up in October
Longevity Day. On October 1st, the world celebrates the International Day of Older Persons, an occasion to draw attention to the elderly and their needs. Our community likes to think of this as a Longevity Day and makes it an occasion to bring attention to, and discuss, rejuvenation biotechnology as the most effective means to address old people’s health needs. What better occasion could there be to talk about rejuvenation than the International Day of Older Persons?
Longevity Film Competition. On October 1st, the results of the Longevity Film Competition will be announced. This contest is organized by the SENS Research Foundation, HEALES and ILA in order to stimulate talented activists to produce more educational videos to spread the word and address the typical public concerns related to healthy longevity.
The international school “Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases” is taking place at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology from September 30 to October 3, and it features a number of leading researchers, such as Claudio Franceschi and Vladimir Anisimov.
ISOAD conference on aging. On October 5-8, ISOAD is hosting the 3rd International Conference of Aging and Disease (2018 ICAD), which will be held at Le Saint Paul Hôtel, Nice, France. We want to congratulate Dr. Ilia Stambler, who was crucial in organizing this conference, on building a wonderful program featuring a number of renowned researchers of aging and advocates of life extension.
MediaForum “All Russia 2018”. On October 6-12, our own Elena Milova is attending MediaForum “All Russia 2018”, which has been organized by the Union of the Journalists of Russia in Sochi, and she will chair Longevity Journalism, a discussion aimed at educating mass media representatives from many regions of Russia about the development and implementation of rejuvenation technologies.
Imagine Science Film Festival. New York City will be hosting the forthcoming Imagine Science Film Festival on October 12-19, an occasion where filmmaking meets science. Lifespan.io is proud to be an official sponsor of this year’s event, whose theme—survival—is very much related to our work. If you happen to be in New York at the time, you can get your ticket here, and as one of our readers, you are entitled to a 25% discount—just use the code ISFF11LIFESPAN for all events at the festival, except those at the Rubin Museum and the Margaret Mead Festival.
Awareness campaign in Israel, Cyprus, and Pakistan. An awareness campaign for healthy longevity has been organized by Dr. Ilia Stambler of the Israeli Longevity Alliance, and it will take place throughout next month in Israel. A similar event will be held by the Pakistan Aging Research Society and the National Academy of Young Scientists in Pakistan, and the Rotary Club of Larnaca will also host an event to celebrate Longevity Day; however, it will be held on October 2 at the Sun Hall Hotel at 8 PM and will feature a lecture by geriatrician Dr. Kyriacos Adamou.
Ask LEAF Anything. To celebrate Longevity Month, we will have a special, livestreamed “Ask LEAF Anything” event on October 16 from 12:30 to 2:00 PM ET. We will be answering the questions that our followers ask most often, as well as any that you might ask live in the stream comments! Be sure to save the date!
A screening of Paywall: The Business of Scholarship will take place at the United Nations Headquarters, New York City, on October 22, 2018 as part of International Open Access Week. LEAF contributed a piece of original footage with Sci-Hub creator Alexandra Elbakyan to this documentary, and we are happy to see multiple screenings to be held around the globe. Viva Open Science!
Given that September was such a great month for the world of rejuvenation, we hope that it may be an indication of what we can expect the rest of the autumn to be like. There is much to look forward to in the next coming months, as we slowly but steadily move closer and closer to a world where aging was only a long, bad dream.