Aubrey de Grey thinks SENS has a 50 per cent chance of success within 25 years

Bikyamasr interviews Aubrey de Grey. De Grey is the Chief Science Officer at the ‘Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence’ (SENS) Foundation and the Editor-in-Chief of Rejuvenation Research, the world’s highest impact peer-review journal focused on aging intervention.

The SENS model breaks aging down to 7 major classes of damage; cancer-causing nuclear mutations, Mitochondrial mutations, intracellular junk, extracellular junk, cell loss and atrophy, cell senescence and extracellular crosslinks.

“In the SENS Foundation research center we currently focus on two major projects,” said de Grey.

“Two of our senior postdoctoral fellows are working on a project to make mitochondrial mutations harmless, by putting modified copies of the mitochondrion’s DNA into the cell nucleus. Mitochondrial mutations are one of the seven key types of damage that are described in SENS, and this is the most complete way to address it.”

Mitochondria are important components for energy production in cells and mitochondrial mutations are believed to be one of the key proponents of progressive cellular degeneration.

The second project which is currently pursued by another senior postdoc in de Grey’s staff deals with the accumulation of molecular ‘garbage’ which de Grey says our bodies are not built to dispose of.

In this case the approach is to introduce enzymes from other species – enzymes that do break the offending substance down.” The enzymes that could be used are found in bacteria and mold, as well as other organisms that completely digest biological matter.

SENS research is still at the early stages, yet de Grey believes they have managed to make plenty of progress already. In a conference at the American based Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) back in 2006, de Grey outlined the SENS research being conducted and was received with positive reviews from the attendees. Back then, de Grey predicted that with this research, if enough funding and attention was drawn to it, could see direct benefits being applied to people alive today. He believes the first human to reach the age of 300, if given the treatment before aging does too much damage, may have already been born. The first human to live to a thousand would only be a decade younger.

Unfortunately, the economic crisis plaguing a large portion of the globe means funding for research becomes tighter and tighter. De Grey remains optimistic however, as he believes that “the financial crisis has probably slowed things down a little, but not massively.”

“I think 20 years is optimistic, but I still think we have a 50 percent chance of getting there within 25 years. However, that all assumes that we make rapid progress in persuading the public, especially wealthy people, that this is a really important mission,” he stressed.

“Our research is indeed going really well. It’s still at an early stage, that’s for sure, but we’re making progress all the time. Also, I should mention that we’re focusing on the very hardest parts of SENS; there are easier parts, already being pursued by others, and those are going extremely well too,” de Grey concluded.

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