Nextbigfuture interviewed Aubrey de Grey and he provided his view on the progress to radical life extension.
Aubrey shared positive fundraising news for the SENS research foundation.
Last week, SENS Research Foundation (SRF) announced the receipt of a $1 million bitcoin donation from the Pineapple Fund. The Pineapple Fund recently announced its commitment to donating $86 million in bitcoin to charities and causes around the world.
There are two other large cryptocurrency donations of $1 million and $2+ million.
Aubrey has noticed that support for antiaging is over-represented by three groups
2. Computer Professionals
The Cryptocurrency community are mostly computer professionals or computer savvy and tend to have libertarian leanings.
In August, Aubrey joined the startup AgeX to help them with their induced tissue regeneration and other antiaging work. 30% of his time is with AgeX and 70% is with SENS.
Aubrey’s role as VP of New Technology Discovery is to think of new antiaging ideas and for public outreach.
The parent company of AgeX is Biotime. Biotime has the Purestem technology. Purestem has lower contamination and higher stem cell purity. This is better for clinical use of the stem cells.
AgeX induced tissue regeneration concept is –
compare adult cells to embryo cells and then try to identify pathways which can re-activate the full regenerative capability of embryos in adults.
Epigenetic differences have been identified. The first generation induced tissue regeneration drug Renelon will be launched next year.
AgeX also focuses on pursuing the Purestem technology that it has acquired most of the rights to from Biotime.
Biotime HyStem is the gel matrix platform for incorporating fat, brown fat and cardiac cells with regenerative activation (for less scarring).
CEO of AgeX Michael West had mentioned that Full regeneration and Telomerase would be combined for radical life extension.
Aubrey answered – Well, it remains to be seen whether telomerase stimulation will need to be done explicitly, since it may occur as a side effect of shifting adult cells to an embryonic state. But for sure, any cell that needs to divide a lot for a long time needs telomerase. One option in principle is just not to have any cells that need to divide a lot for a long time; this would be achieved by periodically replenishing such cells with new stem cells. We still don’t know which of the various options will be most feasible in a given case.
Question – Would Senolytics (drugs for clearing senscent cells) be used to mitigate cancer risks? Dr. West hypothesizes that full regeneration may resolve the aspect of senescent cells. He thought senescent cells were part of the bodies way of handling the lack of regeneration.
Aubrey answered – Senescent cells are involved in wound healing, which may be what he meant. I think we will probably need to remove senescent cells explicitly, but a rejuvenated immune system may be enough.
Question – how does the AgeX work fit into your overall vision of SENS?
Aubrey answered – SIt fits well. Basically, AgeX is focused on the three components of SENS that refer to problems of cell number (too few of a good type, too many of a bad type) and SENS Research Foundation has mainly scored with regard to the other four, the molecular damage.
1. Cell loss, atrophy – embryo quality regeneration could fully address this issue [AgeX, Biotime]
2. Division obsessed – generally cancer takes a while.
There is currently the emergence of three families of treatments for cancer. Each individually or in combination could make profound progress against cancer over the next few years.
* Check one inhibitors
* Better immune system approaches, including making cancer more vulnerable and targetable by the immune system.
Some of these approaches had been considered promising for a while but were impractical because of cost. Now the low cost of gene sequencing and other advances are making them affordable.
3. death resistant – senolytics. Drugs to clear senescent cells. Unity Therapeutics has been funded to work on this. Unity Therapeutics spun out of SENS. There are several other companies in this space
4. mitochondrial mutations – backup copy effort into nucleus. SENS has funded successful research in this area.
The company Gensight is working on mitochondria related blindness.
5. intracellular waste – foreign enzymes
Ichor Therapeutics – another SENS spinout company is working in this area.
6. extracellular waste – immune system
Covalent – another SENS spinout company is working in this area.
7. extracellular stiffening – crosslink breakers
A new company working in this area should be announced in a few months.
On SENS spinouts
SENS takes a small stake of less than 10% in each of the companies. SENS wants to maximize the chances for success of the spinout companies.
Aubrey’s current predictions
Aubrey believes success with the Robust Mouse Rejuvenation might be 5-7 years away.
Robust Mouse Rejuvenation
– take healthy mouse that would have a normal lifespan. Typical mouse lifespan of 3 years.
– Begin treatments after mouse is 2 years old.
– Double or triple the remaining life. So instead of living one more year, it lives 2 to 3 years longer.
– Currently the best in this area was to extend the mouse life by 3 to 4 months. This was done 10 to 15 years ago using calorie restriction. We need to do ten times what calorie restriction has done.
Full SENS treatment in humans has a 50% chance of happening in the next 20 years.
13 years ago, Aubrey was predicting 50% chance of happening in the next 25 years from that time. Progress has been made. The Science of antiaging is what Aubrey expected but the fundraising was harder.
We may be approaching a tipping point on the fundraising over the next few years, but donations are still needed as Aubrey had hoped in 2006 that more wealthy donors would follow Peter Thiel donation in 2006.
In the science of antiaging, Aubrey had thought that strong treatments in all 7 areas would be needed for radical life extension. Five years ago with the discovery that senolytics alone could have a broad impact on health and longevity. Now Aubrey believes there is the possibility that a radical life extension and health impacts could be achieved with as treatment with as few as 3 to 5 of the 7 SENS areas. However, we will not know for certain until there is lot more work and progress.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.