The MMTP and research on senolytic drugs

I’m a bit late for the party, but this is anyway something really worth mentioning.

If you have given a look to this page, you probably know about senescent cells. If you haven’t, I’ll tell you about them again. In a nutshell, senescent cells are cells no longer able to divide like healthy cells are supposed to do. All they do is stick around your body doing nothing useful, really, and while they’re at it, they interfere in other important processes. Pretty much like grumpy people who aren’t just content with sitting around twiddling their thumbs, but also bother other people and prevent them from carrying on their business. Jerks.

The consequences of having senescent cells sitting around are quite bad, and range from vascular diseases to higher chances to develop cancer to reduced immune capacity. It’s no coincidence that the elimination of senescent cells from the body is a keypoint of the SENS agenda.

Recent studies have shown that eliminating senescent cells from mice significantly improves their health in various ways (See, for example, this, this, this, and this). The way scientists have got mice rid of senescent cells is using senolytic drugs, and this is all great news, but the story is the same as with all other scientific discoveries: Not all aspects of the matter are 100% clear yet, and more research needs to be done. If things turned out well, senolytics could be used to increase human healthspan and lifespan, and get us rid of really bad age-related conditions.

In order to be able to carry on further research on the subject, Lifespan.io is presently running a crowdfunding campaign, namely the Major Mouse Testing Program (MMTP) which I urge you to support through donations, sharing the news on your social media, or both. Your youthful cells will be grateful—your senescent cells not so much, but they can stuff it.

BioViva treats first patient with gene therapy to reverse ageing

Some time ago I posted about BioViva, a new biotech company working on a cure for ageing led by Liz Parrish. In the video of the post, Liz appeared to be quite enthusiastic about what her company is doing and said that the company would hopefully have some results to show as soon as some point in 2016. Today, I stumbled upon an article on PrWeb, according to which “BioViva USA, Inc. has become the first company to treat a person with gene therapy to reverse biological aging, using a combination of two therapies developed and applied outside the United States of America. […] the subject is doing well and has resumed regular activities. Preliminary results will be evaluated at 5 and 8 months with full outcome expected at 12 months. The patient will then be monitored every year for 8 years […]. I suppose this is what Liz was talking about in the video, even though I haven’t find trace of the news on BioViva’s website (well, their site could use some work, I must say).

At any rate, I’m looking forward to hear again about this in a couple of months.

More news about DRACO

If you have questions about DRACO, soon you may be able to ask them directly to dr. Todd Rider. Quoting directly from the petition page:

5 Aug 2015 — Thank you for signing up to receive updates on DRACOs research. We do appreciate your support and will look to provide you with ongoing important updates.

As you already know, DRACOs research and development may lead to a cure for virtually all viruses. More importantly, DRACOs may end suffering and save millions of lives!

Unfortunately, Dr.Rider has only received limited funding to date and so DRACOs research and development will only happen with your help! We will launch an IndieGoGo campaign October 1, 2015 and we hope you will donate.

We do know you have a lot questions first, and we want to answer them! To that point, please respond with your key questions and we will develop and post an FAQ’s on a to-be-determined web space. Also, we have arranged for a Q&A with Dr.Rider, likely via Google Hangouts, on August 27th — an invite will be sent to all subscribers by August 24th.

How can you help? We do need your help! Donations will be needed Oct 1st but in advance of that date we would greatly appreciate you helping us collect emails by spreading this URL -> https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1p01p0xLLQ6uyhAex1i5jCU_LPcPRgyX_6L29reCJ9o0/viewform

 

DRACO crowdfunding campaign

You probably remember my post about DRACOs, the experimental broad-spectrum antiviral drugs with the potential of getting humanity rid of virtually all viruses. You might also remember that, at the time, the problem was that Dr. Todd Rider, the man behind DRACOs, was unable to continue his research for lack of both funding and a laboratory. The bad news is that the situation is unchanged; the good news, though, is that starting October 1st, 2015, Sabrina Montgomery/Killing Sickness (formerly know as The DRACO Fund) is starting a crowdfunding campaign to get Dr. Rider the means he needs to continue his research. If you wish to stay up to date about the details of the campaign, you can subscribe to its mailing list, and if you haven’t already, I recommend you sign the petition to push NIH (the American National Institute of Health) and The White House to provide funding to DRACO research. The petition currently counts 254 signatures and the goal is 500.  Spread the word, folks.
 

About SRF Summer Scholars and the Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference

Although I’m a bit late in the game, I must definitely spend some words on the efforts that SENS Research Foundation puts into outreach and the education of young scientists—the very same ones that, hopefully soon enough, will play a crucial role in the development of the medical breakthroughs that are going to relegate ageing to history books.

SRF offers a summer scholars programme each year, giving undergraduate students the opportunity to work in the emerging, exciting field of regenerative medicine, and conduct research to tackle age-related diseases. As stated on the relevant webpage,

Under the guidance of a scientific mentor, each Summer Scholar conducts his or her own research project in such areas as tissue engineering, genetic engineering, and science policy. The Summer Scholars Program emphasizes development of not only laboratory skills but also communication skills as well. Students participating in the program hone their writing skills via periodic reports, which are designed to emulate text scientists commonly must produce. The program culminates with the students presenting the results of their summer research to scientists from other research institutions at a poster session at the Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference at the end of the summer.

If you’re an undergraduate in a relevant field looking for a great opportunity to do cutting-edge research and kickstart your scientific career, I’m sure this would be a great chance and it would make an extremely fine addition to your CV. You can get an idea of the projects you could be working on, and the caliber of the scientists you’d be working with, by giving a look to the description page for the projects of this year. Unfortunately, it’s too late to join the programme of 2015, but there will certainly be others in years to come; if you’re interested, I recommend you to keep an eye on SRF’s Research Opportunities page to find out how to apply, what for and about the criteria for eligibility.

In the meantime, you can have a look at what this year’s students have to say about the programme in the video below; I would also like to remind you about the Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conferece 2015 (RB2015)—where the students eventually present their projects—held this year in San Francisco at the end of the summer. If you wish to attend as a member of the audience you can register here. They generally have big discounts if you register early enough, but as said I am late in the game and in fact the discount period ends today. Worst-case scenario, you’re prepared for next year 😛


Update bundle #1

These days I am quite busy with several projects, leaving me little time for anything else, so my list of things I wanted to post about is growing longer and longer. I resolved that I need to establish which items on the list deserve a post of their own, and which ones can be grouped together in a single bundle; it could get a bit messy, but at least I will be able to post the news before they become too old. Therefore, here comes the first update bundle. Where applicable, I will cite a brief excerpt from every linked article, but I do recommend you go and give a look to them in their entirety.

 
Fight Aging!’s fundraiser
I’m pleased to see that the fundraiser has reached a total of $70,000. I have no doubts that we can do even better 🙂

 
Quest to redefine ageing
NOVATO — Death will come; that we know. But as each of us traverses a path toward inevitable demise, the length of the path matters less than the quality of the trip and its cost in pain and dollars. In the past year, business interest in aging research has surged. The potential payoff in profits and quality of life is staggering.

As a sidenote, I would like to point out that if we cure ageing comprehensively, then death’s come is not all that certain anymore, because just being mortal doesn’t mean that you will die, but only that you can die.

 
SENS: Are Mitochondrial Mutations Really All That Important?
You might recall that I posted about a recent study that seemed to question the importance of mitochondrial mutations in ageing. SENS has written an article about the study; I recommend you follow the link for all the details; what follows id a brief summary takesn from the source itself.

Q: A recent study out of Japan got a lot of coverage in the press, claiming to overthrow much of what was known about the role of mitochondria in aging. It is said to have found that mitochondrial mutations don’t really accumulate in aging cells over a lifetime. Instead, it found that age-related mitochondrial dysfunction is driven by “epigenetic” changes — changes in the “scaffolding” around DNA that helps regulate which genes are turned on and turned off. In particular, the investigators traced the effect back to the epigenetic downregulation of two genes involved in glycine production in mitochondria, such that providing them with glycine restored much of their normal function. Does this mean mitochondrial mutations really aren’t a problem and we can stop working to fix them?

A: The study is interesting, and contributes to a long-standing debate in this field about the frequency of specific mitochondrial DNA mutations with age and tissue type, and whether they contribute to specific diseases. It is clear at this point that michondrial dysfunction occurs with age and that damage in the form of mutations to mitochondria contributes to the diseases and disabilities of aging. We don’t believe that this particular study is actually a challenge to scientists’ existing understanding about how changes in mitochondria with age both drive and are driven by cellular and molecular damage, and the diseases and disabilities of aging. To maintain and restore youthful good health in aging people, it remains imperative to repair the cellular and molecular damage of aging directly, including alleviating the effects of large DNA deletions in aging mitochondria.

 
Team develops transplantable bioengineered forelimb in an animal model
A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has made the first steps towards development of bioartificial replacement limbs suitable for transplantation. In their report, which has been published online in the journal Biomaterials (“Engineered composite tissue as a bioartificial limb graft”), the researchers describe using an experimental approach previously used to build bioartificial organs to engineer rat forelimbs with functioning vascular and muscle tissue. They also provided evidence that the same approach could be applied to the limbs of primates.

 
New class of drugs dramatically increases healthy lifespan, mouse study suggests
A research team from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Mayo Clinic and other institutions has identified a new class of drugs that in animal models dramatically slows the aging process — alleviating symptoms of frailty, improving cardiac function and extending a healthy lifespan.

 

That’s all for now.