Project4Awesome: An easy way to help life extension

Busy as I am studying biology and helping out LEAF, my posts here have become rarer than water in the desert; thus, when I break the silence—like I’m doing right now—you know it’s for a good reason.

Have you ever heard of Project4Awesome? If not, read on. If you have, read on anyway.

Project4Awesome—P4A for short—is an initiative by the Vlogbrothers, Hank and John Green. Each year in December, P4A invites YouTubers all over the world to make videos and publish them on YouTube to let everyone know about their favourite charities. Videos are then submitted to P4A’s website where people can vote for them. Charities with the most votes are awarded a prize by the Foundation to Decrease Worldsuck—created by the Green brothers—and yes, more than one charity can win. To my knowledge, this year’s prize is $25,000 per charity. Charities in the rejuvenation business could do a lot with that kind of money.

Speaking of which, this is a great occasion to help both SENS Research Foundation and LEAF. My readership will hardly not know who they are, but just in case: SENS Research Foundation is a charity and pretty much the leading organisation working on rejuvenation biotechnologies against ageing. LEAF, the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation, is a charity working to popularise and crowdfund research against ageing. You can help these charities either by making a video yourself, or voting for videos on them on P4A’s website.

As explained on P4A’s website itself, your video needn’t be professional-looking; it can be a short, cellphone video. (As a matter of fact, short videos, say 2-4 minutes, are strongly encouraged.) In addition, you can submit a video for each charity you like, so for example making one for SENS doesn’t mean you can’t make one for LEAF, and vice-versa. More detailed instructions on video-making and how to proceed can be found here, but I’d like to remind you that your video needs to be submitted to P4A between December 15th-17th. That’s also when you’ll be able to vote for other people’s videos. If you do make a video, make sure to get your friends to vote for it, and in general, spread the word: The more people in the life extension community will know about this, the higher the chances SENS and/or LEAF will win a prize; more importantly, this is a great occasion to bring life extension to the attention of Hank Green, who’s rather interested to begin with and has a rather huge follow on Facebook, Twitter, and through different YouTube channels, such as SciShow.

I have already made my video for LEAF, and one for SENS is in the making. If you don’t have a YouTube channel, that’s no big deal because you can easily make one; anyone with an account on YouTube can. That’s what I did—I didn’t have a channel until it was necessary for this very reason. (I wouldn’t expect much else to become available on my channel, but you never know.) I will post my video here after I submit it to P4A.

Please, don’t pass on this chance! It’s fairly easy and costs you nothing. Don’t leave it up to other people to make a video, don’t leave it up to other people to vote: Take the initiative and do something yourself! If everyone left it up to others to do something, no one would do anything and sayonara rejuvenation biotechnologies. Take control, and help us make it happen.

Thanks!

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#GivingTuesday: Help Lifespan.io

November 28th, Tuesday, is Giving Tuesday—the international day of giving, an initiative to encourage people to donate to charities engaged in important causes all around the world.

For the occasion, Facebook is teaming up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to double any donations made to charities through Facebook. The details can be found here, but if you’d like to help Lifespan.io—the crowdfunding platform for research on rejuvenation biotechnologies against age-related diseases created by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation—you can find all you need to know below.

If you want to donate

  • Only donations made after 8:00 AM EST on November 28, 2017 will be matched. If you donate before 8:00 AM, or after November 28, your donation will not be matched. If you want to know what’s the time frame in your timezone, try this tool.
  • If the donation is made between 12:00 AM EST on November 28, 2017 and 11:59 PM HST on November 28, 2017, Facebook will also waive the donation fee they usually keep to the charity receiving the donation.
  • Only the first $2 million in donations will be matched. If you wait too long to make your donation, it’s possible that your donation won’t be matched as the matching fund ceiling might have been reached already. Additionally, only the first $50,000 worth of donations will be matched for each given charity—so, again, the sooner you make your donation, the higher the chances it will be doubled.
  • In order to be matched, donations must be done through Facebook. The easiest way you have to make a donation and have it matched is to visit Lifespan.io’s Facebook page, click the blue “Donate” button on the right under the banner, and follow Facebook’s instructions. The screenshot below shows the location of the “Donate” button, circled in green.

If you want to spread the word

  • You can make a Facebook post explaining to your friends why you think it’s important to support Lifespan.io, and add a “Donate” button to it. Your friends will be able to make their donation to Lifespan.io by clicking the “Donate” button on your post, and their donation will be matched (if done within the time limits). Adding a “Donate” button to your posts is simple; instructions can be found here. Don’t forget to include a #GivingTuesday hashtag.
  • You can record a video to accompany your Facebook post created as described above. Videos are typically more effective than text posts. It doesn’t need to be elaborate or fancy: a simple, short-and-to-the-point cellphone video will do.
  • You can do a Facebook livestream and add a “Donate” button to it. To add a button to a livestream, read here.
  • You can share this very post (permalink) on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or any other social media you like, and don’t forget the #GivingTuesday hashtag.

I strongly suggest you to invite your friends to follow your lead and donate and/or spread the word themselves. Just liking, upvoting, or commenting, without more concrete actions, will accomplish nothing. On the other hand, writing a brief status update explaining the importance of this cause and adding a button to it won’t take longer than five minutes, and it can really make a difference. We’re lucky enough to live in an age where, at least from time to time, we actually have the opportunity to achieve a lot with little effort. Please, let’s not waste it.

News from Lifespan.io campaigns

Before I’m too late for the party, I’d like to let you know that Lifespan.io’s crowdfunding campaign AgeMeter for the development of a diagnostic system to measure functional human age has been extended by two weeks. Presently, 70% of the necessary funds have been collected, i.e. a little over 20.000 dollars out of 30.000. It would be great if yet this other campaign made it to its goal, so if you haven’t made your donation yet, please do—remember, there’s no such thing as a donation which is too small: Broadly speaking, as long as the amount you donate is a positive real number, it is much appreciated! The AgeMeter campaign will end on September 16, 2017.

Contextually, another Lifespan.io crowdfunding campaign has been launched: MouseAge, an AI project aimed at assessing ageing biomarkers in mice visually, using image recognition techniques. If successful, this approach could help speed up rejuvenation research and reduce animal suffering. I’ll let the researchers speak:

MouseAge ends on October 14, 2017. As always, please donate if you can, and do spread the word as far and wide as possible. Thanks!

Introducing Rejuvenaction Italia and other news

I’m pleased to announce the launch of Rejuvenaction Italia, the Italian version of Rejuvenaction. As you might know, Italian is my native language, and while I have neglected/postponed online advocacy in Italian for over two years now, I realised that, as the topic of rejuvenation starts to reach broader audiences, there’s a necessity to make information available in several languages, for the benefit of those who don’t speak English. Regardless of one’s native language, the questions people have about rejuvenation are always the same: How do you do it? Why? Have you thought of overpopulation? And tyrants living forever? and so on. Thus, Rejuvenaction Italia (henceforth officially nicknamed RJi, and accordingly Rejuvenaction will be simply RJ) is essentially a clone of RJ, except in Italian. The blog won’t be nearly as lively as that here on RJ because, you know, there are only 24 hours in a day. I will translate some of the most substantial posts or important news from RJ to RJi, though, and there will be RJi-specific posts that won’t be worth translating into English.

If you speak Italian and/or know someone who does, it may be worth checking out RJ’s Italian clone and share the news on your social media. I would appreciate that very much. 🙂 There’s a link to RJi at the top of the sidebar.

As I translated the contents of RJ into Italian, I took advantage of the occasion to rewrite some articles that were long due for an update, and added entire new sections. You might have noticed them silently popping up here on the English site, together with a minor graphics revamp.

The Ageing section has been extensively rewritten. While I was planning to have a much more comprehensive and technical biology section, I eventually discarded the idea, for three reasons: It would have taken far too long (especially given my lack of specific expertise); it would no longer be the simple, newbie-friendly yet extensive introduction to the topic that I aim for; and it would essentially be duplicating what FA! and LEAF already are doing. Nonetheless, you might want to check out the new What is biological ageing? and What is rejuvenation? pages, as well as the What else can be done? page.

How to help used to be a single, rather messy page; now it is a section in its own right, with a page explaining how to donate, one about how to advocate and join the rejuvenation community, and a little one for scientists or scientists-to-be.

The new Resources section contains a guide to advocacy and a brief list of books of interest; the Links page has been reorganised.

Finally, I decided to group all info about yours truly and this website in a single About section, which also contains a sitemap to ease navigation, contact info, and licence info.

Other minor tweaks aren’t worth mentioning; what I do want to mention (horribly late) is LEAF’s new AgeMeter crowdfunding campaign to realise a tablet device for scanning ageing biomarkers. The campaign was created by the Centers for Age Control, and as of this writing it has reached 60% of its goal. You can read more about biomarkers and this campaign here. The campaign will end on September 2, 2017; I have already made my donation, and I hope you will make one too.

Update bundle #4

Gone are—for now—the golden days when I would publish a new post each week. So, for as long as my schedule is going to be this busy, I’ll have to be content with update bundles. I thought I’d let you know about a few news items and interesting things going on in anti-ageing community.

News from LEAF

On June 30 LEAF will host their first Journal Club event, with dr Oliver Medvedik. The topic will be the implications of epigenetic alterations on aging and as a primary aging process.

The recurring crowdfunding campaign to support LEAF has reached $1110, thus surpassing the first goal of $1000. The next one is $2000, and it’d be great if you could help us reach it, and advertise the campaign so that others may help too.

Another way you can help is by becoming a volunteer—there’s never a shortage of stuff to do in the world of anti-ageing research advocacy, and your talents may be precious. You can also join the community on discord to find out what’s going on and how you can help.

Keep an eye on LEAF, because new campaigns are to be expected fairly soon.

The state of the art

Rejuvenaction does a lot of rejuvenation advocacy, but doesn’t talk much about rejuvenation science. That is on my to-do list and is going to change; for the time being, here’s a brief update on a few research projects, categorised for simplicity the SENS way. None of these is exactly news, but they may give you an idea of where we are in terms of progress, in case you have been out of the loop.

LysoSENS

Clearing up the indigestible junk that accumulates in our lysosomes as we age is crucial in the fight against age-related diseases. The SENS approach to the problem of lysosomal dysfunction consists in upgrading our lysosomes with genes that allow them to produce enzymes that break down the previously unbreakable. A first example of this type of therapy moving towards the clinic is that of LysoCLEAR, an enzyme product in the pre-clinical trial stage specifically tailored to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and its early onset version, juvenile macular degeneration. AMD is one of the leading causes of blindness among the elderly; if successful, LysoCLEAR would not only help old and young alike get back their sight, but it could also pave the way to similar treatments for lysosomal dysfunction in different tissues of the body. Indeed, while LysoCLEAR is targeted to treat the macula, its creator Kelsey Moody is optimistic that the method behind LysoCLEAR can be adapted to target different tissues.

This is not exactly full-scale LysoSENS yet—because we’re not talking of inserting new genes anywhere but rather of a treatment based on enzyme replacement therapy—but it’s an excellent step forward and it definitely is a maintenance-based approach which, at the end of the day, clears out unwanted junk. I suppose it can be seen as a ‘manual’ version of LysoSENS, since the necessary enzymes to clear up the macula aren’t produced directly by the body but are delivered by the drug itself.

Another project, a joint effort by SENS Research Foundation and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, may help us get to the ‘automatic’ version of LysoSENS. The goal of the project is testing out an improvement on somatic gene therapy that uses CRISPR to control where specific genes are added to the genome. Further coverage can be found on FA! —which I always recommend as your primary source for anti-ageing science, together with LEAF. (See Jim’s comment below for a clarification.)

ApoptoSENS

Another cause of pathology in old age is the accumulation of senescent cells—cells that should die, but do not have the decency to do so. These felons have stopped replicating entirely, but don’t die. Instead, they stick around and secrete harmful chemicals. Their existence is a bit of a trade-off: They’re useful in small amounts (they play a role in wound healing and help preventing cancer), but once we hit old age they’ve built up to intolerable amounts, and far from being a solution, they become a problem. That’s why they’re one of the primary targets of ApoptoSENS.

In the past few years, senolytics—drugs capable of targeting and destroying senescent cells—have been often in the spotlight among the anti-ageing research community. Several biotech companies, such as Oisin, Unity, and CellAge, are working on different types of senolytics to get rid of excess senescent cells. The Life Extension Advocacy Foundation ran a rather successful crowdfunding campaign for CellAge last year, and Unity’s senolytics are supposed to enter clinical trials in 2018. Additionally, SENS Research Foundation and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging have recently joined forces on a research project focussed on the clearance of senescent cells in the immune system, led by renowned expert Professor Judy Campisi.

Methuselah Foundation’s new fund

Earlier this year (I told you I’m a slow poster) Methuselah Foundation launched the Methuselah Fund, aimed at providing financial help for promising scientific teams that would like to launch their own company focussed on rejuvenation biotechs. Professional investors’ interest is definitely welcome, and you can get in touch with sergio@methuselahfund.com if you’re interested; however, participants to the Methuselah 300 can complete their pledge by investing in the Methuselah Fund as well.

Upcoming MMTP Longevity Panel

MMTP will host a panel with dr. Alexandra Stolzing, dr. Aubrey de Grey, and other guests in early June—the exact date is to be confirmed. The panel will be livestreamed on Facebook and is offered as one of the rewards for donating to MMTP’s fundraiser on Lifespan.io in 2016. If you have any question to for Alexandra or Aubrey, or the other guests, be sure to submit it to info@majormouse.org.

Advancing Conversations with Aubrey de Grey

If you want an inexpensive, lightweight book that discusses the key points of the rejuvenation cause, either for your own reading or to recommend to others who aren’t willing to go through Ending Aging, I suggest you take a look to Douglas Lain’s Advancing Conversations: Aubrey de Grey—Advocate for an Indefinite Human Lifespan. It’s short, not sciencey and thus simple to read, and it answers quite a few questions that a newbie to the cause may have.

Be the Lifespan

I apologise for my long silence (both here and on l4t), but I’m having another of my crazy busy periods. As a matter of fact, I’ve got something going on behind the scenes for Rejuvenaction—major content updates that I’m planning and soon I’ll be working on, but don’t hold your breath. It’s gonna be a long thing, and I probably won’t get to it properly until my busyness is over.

In the meantime, have a look at Lifespan.io’s new campaign:


This campaign has no expiry date, and it aims at getting a decent monthly budget for LEAF/Lifespan.io to fund more and more projects and initiatives to help scientific research against age-related diseases and spread awareness. The base goal is 1000$, but with a higher budget, LEAF may be able to do a lot of cool things, like collaboration videos with big YouTube names such as SciShow and Kurzgesagt and yearly conferences. If you can spare even just a few dollars a month, you can help LEAF make a big difference.

You can also help out by spreading the word on your social media—remember to use the hashtags #aging, #crowdfundthecure, #bethelifespan.

Update bundle #3

Last update: 20.01.2017.

Happy New Year! Yes, I realise I’m a bit late for that one, but I’ve been quite busy in the last month. I spent good part of my Christmas holidays and of January working on some improvements to Rejuvenaction, and yet others are planned. Let me tell you about them.

The largest change is the new version of the overpopulation objection. I’d been wanting to revise it for some time already, and I added a lot more meat to it in the process. I split it into three separate sections dealing with different aspects of the problem; each of them goes much more into detail than before. Comments and suggestions are welcome, especially if you notice any mistakes that I may have overlooked.

I answered two more objections, namely Rejuvenation will be too expensive to create and Rejuvenation won’t happen within my lifetime.

I also created a page containing all answers in short, whose purpose should be self-explanatory. Each short answer on this page links to the corresponding full answer both on Rejuvenaction and LEAF (if available). More generally, each time you see this icon

leaf

it means the article you’re reading has a counterpart on LEAF which I linked to and you may want to check out.

I also retouched some other articles here and there, and shortened the titles of menu items for the sake of navigability. Should you find any broken links anywhere, please let me know. With all the changes I made, it’s bound to have happened somewhere.

Next, I’m planning to add more content to the section about ageing and SENS, but it’ll take a while before I even begin, so don’t hold your breath.

On an unpleasant note, the crowdfunding campaign for CellAge has only two days left to go and has reached only 29% of the goal. If you can help push that percentage a bit higher, please do.

UPDATE: The CellAge fundraiser has been extended until February 24th, and is currently 30% funded. We’ve got over a month’s time to make it 100%!