Preventing the dysfunction of natural killer (NK) cells may be a promising area to explore in the fight against cellular senescence. Researchers are hoping to define the correlation between the increase in senescent cells and the onset or worsening of disease in humans to develop successfully tested therapies that intercept and slow down the process. The ApoptoSENS project seeks to develop CAR-NK cells that positively impact cellular function and eliminate dysfunctional cells.
What is the ApoptoSENS research project?
The ApoptoSENS project is one of SENS Research Foundation’s rejuvenation biotechnology projects, which seek new and innovative methods for combating the effects of aging. This project focuses on removing dysfunctional cells and allowing healthy cells to continue to operate.
Under the management of Dr. Amit Sharma, Group Lead at the SENS Research Foundation’s Senescence Immunology Research Group (ImmunoSENS), this project aims to explore the creation of CAR-NK cells. Having received his Master’s in Biomedical Science from Delhi University, India, and his Ph.D. in Biotechnology from the University of Pune, Dr. Sharma’s past research focuses on aging, senescence, and the immune system. Specifically, he works with mouse models that demonstrate microRNA regulation of cytokines related to allergic inflammation. He also uses invertebrate and mammalian models of genotoxic stress and cellular senescence along with their roles in novel molecular regulatory pathways.
In spearheading the ApoptoSENS project, Dr. Sharma and his team seek to explore the potential of utilizing CAR-NK cells to eliminate senescent cells while retaining healthy ones. Similar preclinical approaches using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have proven underwhelming in the past. However, researchers note that the overall strategic approach is encouraging and suggest that an alternative approach using CAR-NK cells could prove effective.
What is SENS Research Foundation?
SENS Research Foundation is a non-profit organization, founded in March 2009, with the aim of researching and developing therapies that combat aging and its related diseases. The organization also exists to spread awareness and fund research projects.
Currently, the Mountain View-based organization is exploring several project areas:
- AmyloSENS, an immuno-therapeutic clearance project focusing on extracellular aggregates.
- GlycoSENS, which explores AGE-breaking molecules and tissue engineering targeting extracellular matrix stiffening.
- LysoSENS, which focuses on novel lysosomal hydrolyses and intracellular aggregates.
- MitoSENS, research relating to allotropic expression of thirteen proteins and mitochondrial mutations.
- OncoSENS, which explores the removal of telomere-lengthening machinery and cancerous cells.
- RepleniSENS, which concentrates on stem cells and tissue engineering including cell loss and tissue atrophy.
- ApoptoSENS, a targeting ablation project exploring CAR-NK cells.
What is the role of VitaDAO in backing the ApoptoSENS research project?
On April 25th, 2022, voting closed on Project VDP-38: ApoptoSENS – Senolytic CAR-NK cells. Having gained full confidence of the quorum with a 100% ‘for’ vote, ApoptoSENS was awarded ~$253,000 (USD) to carry out its research.
VitaDAO funded the project with the intent to acquire a patent for the research and to show support for the well-known longevity organization, which has a record of successful early-stage research projects, such as Underdog Pharma. The project team noted that the project had an “attractive therapeutic approach” to removing senescent cells and a greater potential than previous efforts to target dysfunctional cells while maintaining cellular function.
Based on SENS’ reputation, the filed patents for specific surface-marker antibodies and subsequent reagents that help the therapy to selectively target senescent cells while avoiding healthy ones, and the mission alignment, VitaDAO believes that such an approach has the potential to deliver tangible results and falls under its remit as an organization.
Although the DAO noted risks relating to the feasibility of the project and which factors will determine CAR-NK cells, the team believes that SENS’ reputation acts as a guarantee of quality.
Following a quorum vote ending on April 25th, 2022, VitaDAO, a biotech DAO focused on funding early-stage longevity research, funded over $230K to SENS Research Foundation’s ApoptoSENS project. The aim of this project is to utilize CAR-NK cells to combat senescent cells and remove them while leaving healthy cells in place.
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