Reverse Aging Events
"A Better Future Lies Ahead"
RAAD Fest - (Upcoming) - August 2016
SENS Research Foundation Conference - September 2013
Longevity Summit - November 2009
Understanding Aging Conference - June 2008
Anti-Aging Conference - October 2004
Research Funding Conference - September 2004
SENS II Conference - August 2001
International Scientific Conference II - January 2001
International Scientific Conference I - June 2000
(Upcoming) August 2016
Details coming soon!
SENS Research Foundation Conference
The SENS6 conference was held from September 3-7, 2013 at Queens' College, Cambridge, UK.
The conference consisted of invited talks, short oral presentations of submitted abstracts, and poster sessions. As usual, talks took place in the Fitzpatrick Lecture Hall, while poster sessions took place each evening in the conservatory adjacent to the bar.
The purpose of the SENS conference series, like all the SENS initiatives, is to expedite the development of truly effective therapies to postpone and treat human aging by tackling it as an engineering problem: not seeking elusive and probably illusory magic bullets, but instead enumerating the accumulating molecular and cellular changes that eventually kill us and identifying ways to repair - to reverse - those changes, rather than merely to slow down their further accumulation. This broadly defined regenerative medicine - which includes the repair of living cells and extracellular material in situ - applied to damage of aging, is what we refer to as rejuvenation biotechnologies.
Our first scientific anti-aging conference was held in Manhattan Beach, California over nine years ago. This was no ordinary conference. Rather, it was a high-powered brainstorm session to figure out how to reverse aging. Twelve researchers from around the world combined their genius and their levels of expertise in their specific specialties, and they laid the groundwork for what eventually evolved into a scientific roadmap for full age reversal. Each scientist represented a separate discipline. Fields such as stem cells, genomics, nanotechnology, information technology and more were represented. You see, aging is extremely complex, and each scientist contributed a piece of the puzzle.
Just as the Manhattan Project was designed in 1942 to build the atomic bomb to end WW II, the Manhattan 'Beach' Project was founded at the original conference on June 23rd, 2000 as an all-out assault on the world’s biggest killer - Aging.
I. Intro - David Kekich
II. The Law of Accelerating Returns - Ray Kurzweil via video
III. Caloric Restriction - Stephen Spindler
IV. Evolutionary Genomics of Life Extension - Michael Rose
V. Telomere Maintenance - William Andrews
VI. Aging Genes and Manipulation - Stephen Coles
VII. Restoring Your Immune Function - Derya Unutmaz
VIII. Extracellular Aging and Regeneration - John Furber
IX. Stem Cells/Regenerative Medicine - Michael West
X.Tissue/Organ Storage - Gregory Fahy
XI. SENS/Mitochondrial Rejuvenation - Aubrey de Grey (Two topics - 30 minutes)
XII. Artificial General Intelligence - Peter Voss
XIII. Nanomedicine - Robert Freitas/Ralph Merkle
XIV. Genome Reengineering - Robert Bradbury (Multiple topics - 35 minutes)
XV. 7 Steps to Help Ensure Your Longevity - David Kekich
XVI. Cryonics - Ralph Merkle
Understanding Aging Conference
Located at UCLA June 28th and 29th 2008
As a subscriber to my newsletter, you and your friends are invited to attend a unique FREE forum on Friday, June 27th, in Los Angeles. Leading scientists and thinkers in Life Extension, Stem-Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine will gather at UCLA for Aging 2008 to explain how human aging might be modified to your benefit.
Industry legends will participate. They include: Bruce Ames, Steve Burrill, Aubrey de Grey, Bill Haseltine, Bernie Siegel, Gregory Stock, Michael West and Dan Perry. They will share their insights and predictions with you.
Aging 2008 will serve as the opening session for the Understanding Aging Conference to be held at UCLA on June 28 and 29th. The meeting is organized by the Methuselah Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2002 by Dr. Aubrey de Grey and David Gobel. It is dedicated to extending the healthy human lifespan. If you have a scientific bent, you might want to register for the conference as well. The Saturday and Sunday conference does have a registration fee.
The Friday eve forum kicks off with a reception at 4:00 PM, with presentations at 5:00 PM, followed by a dinner at 8:00 PM. Aging 2008 is free with advance registration required. To register, click here.
This is a RARE OPPORTUNITY for you. I hope to see you there.
“One of the reasons humanity is not advancing more rapidly, is because we are losing our greatest resource through death, the human mind.”
NEXT STEPS FOR SENS LONGEVITY SCIENCE
As it so happens, coaxing your aging immune system back into working shape is one of the items on the list for forthcoming Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) research, funded by the Methuselah Foundation. Reason thoughtfully provided a summary of what we can look forward to:
"During 2008, the Methuselah Foundation will launch a project to develop a procedure for clearing aged T cells from the blood of mice, and potentially thereafter in primates. This work will be supervised by one of the top professors in the immunosenescence field."
If you'll recall, the major issues with our immune system result from the fact that it evolved to protect 15-year-olds who lived in caves and probably wouldn't see the other side of 30. Evolution doesn't care about what happens to you after you pass on your genes, so the immune system is wonderfully engineered for the young... and then later runs headlong into the consequences of short-term optimizations.
One of those optimizations is a limit to the number of T cells. That limit gets progressively eaten up over a normal modern life span by an accumulation of memory T cells specialized for what turns out to be a useless job - remembering varieties of the harmless cytomegalovirus. That growing horde of do-nothing memory cells eventually leaves little capacity left for new T cells intended to fight serious infections, suppress cancer, destroy senescent cells, and so forth.
So, here we have more cells we don't want. As for the senescent cells, killing them seems to be a quick win, rapidly stopping a form of age-related damage by freeing up capacity in the immune system, provided we have the tools to hunt them down without harming other cells. Of course, these tools are presently emerging from the cancer research community.
So we have cause to be optimistic, even if this research remains underfunded at this time.
Lack of funding can be changed, and we can all help to make that happen - not having a course of action is a much harder problem to fix.
Summary Report on Saturday, October 30, 2004 Anti-Aging Conference 8:00 AM Plenary Session: “Financing Anti-Aging Research”.
The session consisted of presentations from:
David Kekich, Session Chair, Maximum Life Foundation Owner, www.Transvio.com - Introduction to Financing Anti-Aging Research
Mr. Kekich introduced the concept of the possibilities of extreme life extension in absence of aging and aging related diseases. He discussed the economic and social benefits to controlling the aging process as well as how the funds might be raised to fund the “scientific roadmaps” already developed by anti-aging researchers as an outcome of three anti-aging scientific conferences sponsored by the Maximum Life Foundation.
He illustrated the current investment and funding climate for Anti-Aging research, including the barriers to raising significant funding and how we plan to initiate ways to overcome these challenges. The Maximum Life Foundation’s plan called “The Manhattan Beach Project” found its roots in June, 2000 in Manhattan Beach, Calif. At the initial scientific brainstorm session designed to develop a scientific roadmap to “cure” aging.
To fund the research, Mr. Kekich proposed establishing an endowment fund. The fund would aggregate “depositors” funds. All deposits would be refundable. They would pay above-market dividends or interest rates... and would be managed to protect them from asset erosion while earning enough income over-and-above the dividend payments to fund early-stage companies doing life extension research and product and service development. Mr. Kekich felt this would help satisfy depositors concerns about risk as well as providing them with early steady returns as well as potential capital gains on the investments the endowment fund would make.
He pointed out that this would be a win/win strategy benefiting everyone: depositors; endowment fund managers; venture fund managers; entrepreneurs; investment bankers and local, state and federal governments.
J.M. Salgado, Founder, Project Life - Project LIFE: A Comprehensive Global Approach to Anti-Aging Funding & Research
Mr. Salgado’s presentation described how his Project LIFE is a multi-disciplinary, multi-national, multi-billion dollar project with one specific goal: to find a way to intervene in and reverse the aging process in adult humans in order to be able to surpass excessively our current 122-year maximum life expectancy.
He feels we can accomplish this in many of our lifetimes, but the cost will be in the billions of dollars per year. J.M. believes neither the government nor corporate America will be up to the task if we want a solution in time to impact many of our lives. He believes the only way we’ll be able to accomplish this will be to mobilize wealthy individuals who are interested in their own health and longevity as well as in good investments.
J.M.’s presentation focused on an aggressive campaign to acquire pledges for private investments from that core of wealthy individuals who are sold on personal longevity. This ambitious project is designed to raise several billion dollars initially. Only when enough funds to pay for the research are raised will the pledges be called. Mr. Salgado also outlined the necessary steps to launch such a large and unprecedented scientific endeavor. They are:
- Form preliminary Scientific Working Group
- Formulate preliminary R&D plan
- Recommend candidates for Operational Scientific Committee
- Get “intent to commit” from:
- Operational Scientific Committee
- Operational Management Team
- Board of Guarantors
Phase 3: Contracts Sign-up campaign
- Intense Marketing & PR campaign
- Conditional Investment Contract ? $ now
- Contracts validation by funds-collecting financial institutions
David Gobel, Chairman/Co-Founder/CEO, The Methuselah Foundation - The Methuselah Mouse Prize Competition: Benefits for Future Clinical Use
Mr. Gobel discussed how the Methuselah Mouse Prize will encourage and accelerate longevity research. The Methuselah Foundation is offering prizes for specific achievements in advancements in the healthy lifespan of both newborn and aged mice. The series of prizes will grow to include even more ambitious life extension competitions as progress is achieved. The Methuselah Mouse Prize is designed to change the current research agenda, where there might be satisfaction with making small steps, forward to a broader perspective, explicit long-term vision, and methods to spark the participation, competition, investment and approaches for what may be achieved. Then, by drawing attention to researchers and the mice that have successfully turned back the clock, the Prize will increase public hope, enthusiasm and funding for such research.
He described how the value of prizes are gravitationally powerful and self accelerating, the faster the prize fund grows the more powerful the attraction of the prize, and the more folks who take it seriously who then want to help it go even faster. With the help – not only of the wealthy - but of normal citizens who can benefit, the prize growth will continue to accelerate.
Donors can pledge $25,000 each within 25 years. It can be paid at once or over time with as little as $85 per month. Mr. Gobel stressed that every dime received goes to the Prize Fund until won.
Recent experience of the Darpa Grand Challenge is that for every dollar in the prize, the competitors invested 65 dollars to compete and try to win.
On June 8th, 2003, the inaugural Methuselah Prize was awarded to Dr. Andrzej Bartke for the "Methuselah Mouse" that lived the equivalent of 180 human years. Since June, the Foundation has attracted in excess of ? Million dollars toward funding the prize – and has attracted world class competitors to the lists as well as millions of media impressions with much more to come.
Mr. Gobel announce upcoming for November, the Rejuvenation Prize for the scientifically repeatable experiment that results in significant life extension in middle aged mice and reversal of damage from aging.
Huber Warner, Ph.D., Associate Director, National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of Health - Genomics and Longevity
Dr. Warner’s lecture discussed the advances in genomics, cell biology, stem cell biology and nanotechnology.
He reported the Fiscal Year 2004 budget of the NIA was just over $1 billion. Of this about 85% was available for funding extramural research grants, and about 18% of this, or about $150 million was managed by the Biology of Aging Program (BAP). BAP includes portfolios in Genetics, Cell Biology, Metabolism, Immunology, Physiology, Endocrinology, Musculoskeletal Biology and Cardiovascular Biology, and in a broad sense, all of this research has implications for anti-aging therapeutics. Nevertheless, BAP has launched three initiatives in the last 20 years with more direct relevance to the development of strategies to delay aging and the onset of age- related disability. These include Biomarkers of Aging (1988 – 1998), and two ongoing initiatives on Identification of Longevity Assurance Genes (1993 - ?), and an Intervention Testing Program (2003 - ?). Dr. Warner focused on these 3 initiatives and how they may relate to future development of anti-aging therapeutics.
He said even though the U.S. National Institute on Aging has spent more than $9.4 billion since 1974, but has yet to turn any medical intervention into a meaningful application to combat the degenerative disease of aging, he listed 11 portfolio areas of funding where significant progress has been made.
Two of the indirect approaches were identification of biomarkers (1988 – 1998) and identification of Longevity Assurance Genes (1993 - ?) and one direct approach, an Intervention Testing Program ( 2003 - ?).
From 1988 – 1998, at a total cost of about $20 million resulted in a definitive panel of biomarkers of aging in rodents that was not achieved. One objective for developing biomarkers of aging would be their value in testing dietary and pharmacological interventions to retard aging. New approaches are needed e.g. gene expression microarrays, proteomics and imaging.
Dr. Warner then described an NIA Aging Intervention Testing Program.
- To rigorously test promising biomedical interventions to increase longevity in mice by survival analysis.
- To monitor age-sensitive traits to determine whether aging-related changes are delayed by these interventions.
- To identify interventions that might work in humans to delay the development of age-related pathology.
Bard Geesaman, M.D., Vice President, Elixir Pharmaceuticals Director, F2 Venture Capital - Financing Anti-Aging Research with Biotech
Over the past decade Dr. Geesaman has been associated with two of a handful of biotech companies with discovery platforms initially focused on aging research. The best funded of these include Geron, Centagenetix, and Elixir Pharmaceuticals. He elaborated on his experience with the latter two.
He discussed the enormous markets for validated anti-aging technology and the insurmountable regulatory hurdles for getting drugs approved that claim to extend lifespan. Additionally, he said disease prevention claims are much more difficult to achieve than indications for disease treatment. Successful funding and value creation within such biotech companies requires recognition of these challenges and very strategic approaches for achieving financing milestones.
Then he presented a case study of the two companies he has experience with.
The first, Centagenetix was founded in the spring of 2000. Their focus was on the human genetics (centenarian DNA) target discovery platform. He described their original business model which was to derive revenue from identifying anti-aging molecular targets for big pharma. They were able to raise $8M of venture capital.
Elixir Pharmaceuticals, also founded in the spring of 2000 modeled long-lived organisms developed in labs of founders. They built a dominant IP portfolio around anti-aging biology. They too were successful raising venture capital having raised a total of $13.3M.
But less than three years later, the venture capital industry took a turn for the worse. Both companies were met with skepticism, especially related to the anti-aging industry. So in February 2003, the companies merged, changed their strategies and raised $41M.
They recruited pharmaceutical industry giants to help remold their direction and developed specific focus in diabetes and obesity. Now they’re in the process of spinning out much of the anti-aging platform into a new company, NutraCent, an anti-aging nutraceutical company.
Dr. Geesaman said the important lessons learned were:
- Anti-aging technology has repeatedly proved “sexy” for early staged companies with low valuation
- Successful follow-on financing requires rapid development into commercial entity
- Anti-aging technology can inform, but not dominate strategy for a biotech company
- Pharmaceutical development favors disease treatment over disease prevention
- In the short-term, some aspects of anti-aging/disease prevention science may be more readily applied to the nutraceutical industry
- Commercializing aging research is not easy; requires investors and entrepreneurs to be opportunistic and pragmatic
- NutraCent is attracting significant attention amongst a new class of investors
- Both companies now based on business plans built on tradition notions of value rather than hype
Mark Patterson, CEO, Mastery Matrix, Big Picture Tours & Ads
Mark was unable to attend due to a medical emergency, but Mr. Kekich presented part of his proposal.
He plans on funding a massive, Manhattan-style effort to end and reverse human aging through a creative partnership between extremely wealthy individuals and a relatively small, 2nd Tier Economic Power World Government. The characteristics of this partnership are as follows:
The project will be PRIMED by an initial commitment of $6 billion dollars--$3 billion invested by wealthy individuals leveraged by $3 billion in matching government commitments. The partnership will include only one government to avoid being bogged down by endless rounds of planning and negotiations between the supporting nations. The project must be ENORMOUSLY attractive to this government. This will only be the case for countries that will experience transforming positive benefits on a national scale. A country that is currently spending a very small percentage of it’s GDP on biomedical research could be rapidly propelled to the forefront of biomedical research by an infusion of $3 billion in private investment and an influx of the world’s leading scientific expertise.
The government will commit to providing $3 billion over a 15-year term. The funding commitments over 15 years would be offset by revenue growth from supporting industries and infrastructure.
In exchange for winning sponsorship of this project, the government would agree to provide a research and commercial development haven, free of taxes, artificial political obstacles, and excessive regulatory burdens. Once the commitment for matching government funds is in place, $3 billion in investments from very wealthy private investors will be raised.
This massive effort will be organized in three synergistic entities:
- The Methuselah Institute will conduct cellular rejuvenation research.
- The Methuselah Clinic will carry out clinical trials to lead the world in regenerative medicine.
- Methuselah Technologies will commercialize discoveries from both the Methuselah Institute and the Methuselah Clinic.
Investors will have their funds leveraged by 1) matching government funding, 2) a tax free window for both the Methuselah Clinic and Methuselah Technologies, 3) economies of scale that will dwarf the high cost structure found at most Universities and research centers.
Each speaker participated in a one hour panel discussion followed by questions from the audience for 30 minutes. The session was devoted to problem solving… how to fund anti-aging science research. Some of the topics and questions presented to panel members were:
- We have feedback that trying to sell radical life extension is marketing suicide. Do you agree? Should we instead try to sell gradual change to raise the money we need?The consensus was it would be more productive and receptive to present a more conservative approach to the general public and to potential investors. However, some of the more aggressive panel members insisted we keep our eye on the extreme life extension ball.
- What critiques or comments do you have on the proposals you heard today on the Methuselah Foundation’s and on the Maximum Life Foundation’s approaches to raising funds?Comments were generally favorable with Dr. Geesamen seeming to favor the more conservative traditional venture capital funding approach.
- What are your thoughts on offering a cash prize or prizes?The Methuselah Mouse Prize was met with general enthusiasm. Suggestions were made to emulate and approach parties such as John Sperling, Larry Elison, Paul Glenn and some Saudi investors who already committed time and money to anti-aging enterprises.
- In light of some of the existing and pending regulations and restrictions on research in the US, do you see doing some research in 3rd world countries as an alternative? Why or why not?The panel was pretty evenly split on this issue. Some felt it is an ethical quandry that could compromise the integrity and quality of research while others believed we should go offshore to keep regulatory bottlenecks from slowing progress.
- What role do you see federal or state governments playing in extreme life extension research, if any? We used Prop 71 as an example of how to make a state the medical/science anti-aging world center in an emerging $1T market.Dr. Warner commented on the NIH’s commitment to aging research. Prop 71 was seen as a very positive proposal and as a possible model for life extension research.
- What are your thoughts on centralizing research in one center or incubator as opposed to decentralizing it? Maybe a virtual incubator?The panel felt decentralization was the best approach to encourage innovation.
- How viable do you think the idea of having an exclusive “club” is whose members would make deposits or invest and potentially receive benefits such as being first to get experimental treatments or therapies we might develop... among other benefits?The panel was split on this issue. About half felt this would cheapen and unduly commercialize healthcare, while others felt healthcare is simply another commodity, and that the wealthy would pay higher prices and invest more at the early stages, thus paving the way to faster and lower cost treatments for the general public.
- What are your ideas on how we could best attract a powerful spokesperson or center of influence to support our project?This was accepted as a viable approach, so long as the spokesperson was a credible well respected individual who the public could relate to. The panel seemed to favor a medical or scientific personality rather than a member of the entertainment industry. A well respected business leader was also suggested.
- How practical is the model formulated by the Life Extension Foundation to fund research. They built a business selling supplements and use most of the profits to fund anti-aging research.It was reported that Elixir Pharmaceuticals has started to integrate near-term profit ventures into their corporate strategy. They formed a nutraceutical division to fuel longer term drug development projects. The panel generally felt this could be a viable part of an overall strategy.
- What’s the best way to attract high profile members to our scientific board, such as Nobel Prize winners?The panel agreed we would need to create a comfortable intellectual home for them first. Few, if any, would risk their reputations on anything that could be perceived as a radical and unrealistic undertaking.
- What role do you see venture capital companies playing in funding this enterprise?
So far, only 2-3 venture capital firms invested directly in anti-aging companies. And those companies, Geron and Elixir, are now focused on more traditional pursuits.
Research Funding Conference
On September 18th, 2004, Maximum Life Foundation sponsored a formal brainstorm session in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. The 13 attendees included Dr. Aubrey de Grey, one of the world's foremost anti-aging scientists. Unlike our scientific sessions in 2000, 2001 and 2002, Aubrey was the only scientist present. In our first two sessions, we discussed and formulated a general scientific roadmap to reverse aging. Aubrey fine tuned his own version since then and presented it in many parts of the world via conferences and major media.
This session was attended by some top notch marketing and financing personalities including Joe Polish, Joe Sugarman, one of the world's direct marketing legends (via teleconference) and Bill Phillips, who build a fitness empire which originally included MetRx and later EAS and Muscle Media publication company. Bill wrote the world's biggest selling fitness book, Body for Life, and recently wrote Eating for Life. Participants also included Shawn Phillips, Richard Spring, Eben Pagen, Dean Jackson, Jo Cavanaugh, venture capitalist Michael Potter, Eunice Miller, Bruce Klein, Lisa Wagner and David Kekich.
We developed the framework of a financial roadmap to fund the scientific roadmap. We formulated creative strategies to raise up to $100M (or more) per year to coordinate and accelerate targeted anti-aging medicine research funding.
Here are some high points that summarize our conference:
- We are going to develop a master plan to endow funding in a fund or a series of funds to generate income for anti-aging medicine R&D. We will seek refundable deposits rather than investments or donations. Depositors will possibly get an annual dividend in addition to the major share of any income or capital gains derived from the investments we make during the term of the project (may be open-ended but scheduled for 10 years). Our goal is investing $100 million per year in anti-aging technologies for at least 10 years. This will take approximately $1.4 billion under professional management without invading the principal.
- We will focus on the Methuselah Foundation's agenda of reversing aging in a mouse within 10 years and hopefully applying some or all of the research to humans during that period and beyond. We will also support some artificial intelligence and nanotechnology research if feasible.
- One of our marketing efforts will center on offering depositors a "higher purpose" psychic reward in addition to financial rewards. We will develop an exclusive community of common interest among high achievers and other wealthy individuals where they would feel pride in what they are helping to accomplish.
- We would offer strategic by-products to members.
- We could extend an invitation rather than a solicitation. Depositors would be invited to extend their and their families' lives and well-being as well as contributing to the health and welfare of the rest of the world.
- This could be a referral/networking marketing effort.
- Depositors could be granted membership to an exclusive "club".
- Related benefits could be early access to quicker cures and preventatives of diseases such as Alzheimer's, strokes, heart attacks, cancer, etc.
- We plan on attracting one or more celebrity spokespersons.
- We plan to build a powerful Board.
Some other ways mentioned to raise funds were:
- Offer a prize or prizes, similar to the X Prize. The Methuselah Foundation is already offering researchers on-going Methuselah Mouse Prizes for the longest lived mouse.
- Start an aggressive public relations program.
- Start government and industry campaigns.
- Start a grass roots movement via a series of social events.
- Generate funds from related or non-related businesses similar to the Life Extension Foundation's model.
- Develop short DVD's to long infomercials or documentaries as well as other marketing materials.
- Have a credible author write a pertinent longevity book and/or use contributing authors.
- Affiliate ourselves with a major university for enhanced credibility, research facilities as well as possible financial support through alumni associations or endowments.
- Raise seed funding to support an organization to spend a couple of years doing professional fund raising for the $1.4 billion.
- We agreed in today's environment, it's easier to sell gradual changes or improvements rather than "curing" aging. It would probably be more effective to promote a healthier life span and maybe a 15-25 year extension rather than something much more ambitious. Trying to sell extreme life extension would be counter-productive and not universally believable until the public becomes aware of the existing and pending research that should extend lives dramatically.
- We discussed the possibilities of a central building or complex to house most of the research in a Mayo Clinic type atmosphere.
- We discussed the possibility of moving some of the more sensitive research offshore that might be impeded by government delays or restrictions in the US. We also discussed decentralizing the operation.
- We planned to build a web portal where all participants, as well as scientists and the general public could meet and share information.
During the month following our meeting:
- We started the business plan to raise the seed money as well as a plan to state the financial case for the "big picture".
- We scheduled a meeting with a fund management firm that could get us closer to the 12% annual return on an endowed funding model than the 10% originally projected... while protecting principal.
- We scheduled a meeting with a well known personality in the fund raising arena for a major boost to Dr. de Grey's Methuselah Mouse Prize (sort of like the Ansari X Prize which just awarded $10M for the first successful private space launch).
- We developed a $600,000 annual budget for the operation to raise our $1.4 billion endowment fund.
- Finally, we started detailing our plan and identified some personalities we'd like to recruit as spokespersons.
SENS II Conference
SENS 2: Biological, social and political implications of SENS
Roundtable meeting, Los Angeles, August 12th 2001
On August 12th 2001, a small roundtable meeting was held at UCLA, Los Angeles, to discuss a wide range of issues surrounding the possibility that, within a few decades, biotechnology might be developed that would enable us to reverse all the key lifespan-limiting components of human aging. The meeting was a sequel to one held in Oakland in October 2000 entitled "Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence" (SENS), so the UCLA meeting was entitled "SENS 2". Full funding was generously provided by the Maximum Life Foundation (see http://www.maxlife.org/).
The October meeting, SENS 1, gave rise to a highly controversial and provocative article, "Time to Talk SENS: Critiquing the Immutability of Human Aging", which was published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences as part of the Proceedings of the 9th Congress of the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology. (More details of that meeting, including a transcript, are here.) The central conclusion of that article was that there is a substantial possibility that, within about ten years, we could take a mouse aged about two years (i.e., with a remaining life expectancy of six months or so) and restore it to sufficiently youthful physiology that it would live a year longer than otherwise. Given that such technology -- were it developed in mice -- might potentially be translated to humans, SENS 2 was convened with the goal of discussing the social, political and ethical implications of this possibility, as well as several aspects of the biology of aging that were inadequately covered in SENS 1 or the resulting paper.
The participants in SENS 2 comprised three SENS 1 participants (Aubrey de Grey, Gregory Stock and Chris Heward) and seven others: John Baynes, David Berd, David Gems, Leonard Hayflick, Richard Miller, Huber Warner and John Wilmoth. The expertise of the group thus ranged over many pertinent areas, including glycation, immunosenescence, immunotherapy for cancer, bioethics of life extension, demography of human aging and public and philanthropic funding of anti-aging research. In addition, Steven Coles, David Kekich and Kat Cotter attended as observers. As at SENS 1, each participant gave an informal overview of their area which was followed by extensive discussion. In contrast to SENS 1, there was neither any intention nor expectation of reaching unanimous consensus on all issues discussed. Issues that divided the participants included the feasibility of the proximate goal set out in SENS 1 (the mouse rejuvenation project), the desirability of public optimism regarding the likelihood of progress, the reasons for the low level of funding of basic biogerontology research and the social advantages or disadvantages of controlling human aging. All these topics were, however, addressed with great care and cordiality and many important new arguments were presented. All participants left the meeting with much to think about. A manuscript arising from the deliberations appeared shortly thereafter.
International Scientific Conference II
On January 20th and 21st, 2001, Maximum Life Foundation held its second conference to spark the emerging field of anti-aging medicine or "interventive gerontology". This invitation-only meeting was focused on generating strategies to develop and commercialize clinical applications of current technologies to the human aging process. To this end, the Foundation asked the participants to critique the first draft of a document intended to be used to raise funds for a proposed interventive gerontology business incubator.
Participants represented a cross section of the key fields that will play a role in developing interventions in human aging. They include academic scientists, biotechnology industry professionals, clinicians and theoreticians with a keen interest in aging research.
The following is a list of the attendees:
- Robert Bradbury, President, Aeiveos Corp.
- Stephen Coles, MD, PhD, Cofounder, L.A. Gerontology Research Group
- Aubrey de Grey, PhD, Research Associate, Cambridge University, Dept. of Genetics
- Gregory Fahy, PhD, VP & Director of R&D, 21st Century Medicine
- John Flint, PhD, Founder, Neo-Tech Publishing Company
- Michael Fossel, MD, PhD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Michigan State University
- Chris Heward, PhD, Director, Research and Development, The Kronos Group
- Jeanne Francis Loring, PhD, Senior Director & Science Advisor, Incyte Genomics, Inc.
- Simon Melov, PhD, Assistant Professor, Buck Institute.
- Michael Rose, Ph, Professor, Evolutionary Biology of Aging, UC Irvine
- George Roth, PhD, President, Gerotech, Inc.; Senior Guest Scientist, NIA
- Stephen R. Spindler, PhD, Professor & Chairman, Dept. of Biochemistry, UC Riverside
- Greg Stock, PhD, Director, UCLA Program on Medicine, Technology and Society
- Bob Swanson, PhD, VP, Global Systems, Concurrent Technologies Corp
Over the two days of the conference, we probed methods to accelerate the transition from basic research to practical applications in this field. We discussed recent advances in understanding the basic mechanisms of aging. We addressed the needs of researchers seeking to apply current knowledge of gerontology to affecting the health span of human subjects. We also discussed a plan to eventually fulfill these needs with an aging biotechnology incubator to manage, fund, and support commercializing anti-senescence technologies.
The most striking result of the conference was realizing the industry does not yet exist. There are scientists studying the diseases commonly associated with aging (Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes, etc) and there are those researching aging's basic underlying mechanisms. Unfortunately, these veins of research are viewed as separate from one another. This has been a factor inhibiting the development of a global approach to aging interventions. Creating opportunities to mingle these compartmentalized ideas was a critical function of this conference.
Since most aging research conferences are meetings of the "My Pet Theory on Aging Club", there is an incestuous strengthening of similar hypotheses. To hasten practical applications of existing technologies that could lengthen the health span, we attempted to integrate differing perspectives from other fields and broaden our range of thinking. Other conferences, such as the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence meeting (October 2000) and the Future Milestones in Biomedical Gerontology Symposium (February 1999) have attempted to do just this.
During the conference, it was suggested that one of the key functions of meetings such as this should be to devise experiments that would provide a razor of truth or falsehood to dissect the most prominent theories of aging related damage. It was obvious that, among the forerunners in this field, there is a certain level of frustration at the current pace of research. And there is a wide variety of ideas on how to most efficiently proceed to clinical intervention. Attendees suggested a shortage of good experimental design and the shortage of funding to carry out these research strategies are the two critical roadblocks to progress on developing treatments.
One of the most heated debates at the conference was on defining aging and the viewpoint that senescence can be considered a disease. There was a consensus among participants that aging is alterable, but there were multiple perspectives on how aging should be viewed.
The discussion centered on the semantic definition of disease and whether aging could fall into this definition. It was suggested that, regardless of the accuracy of such a definition, it is possible the value of placing aging in the same category as heart disease and Alzheimer's disease will be that it will bring it into the realm of the treatable. Participants expressed this may result in refocusing funding and scientific effort towards clinical treatment of the fundamental mechanisms of aging. They also cautioned there is a strong resistance among the scientific community and general public to view aging as a deisease.
Another prominent topic was the creation of a commercial aging biotechnology center to act as a coordinating hub for aging research. At the Maximum Life Conference in June 2000, attendees first suggested this concept. This organizational tool would be a biotech incubator that would provide fund raising and managerial services for startup companies specifically dedicated to pursuing aging research. The Maximum Life Foundation is currently funding a five-month study to determine the most effective business model to bring this project to reality.
Many of the conference participants are in the process of developing commercial ventures. They agree nothing will accelerate the pace of this research faster than a product that demonstrates intervention in the aging process as both possible and personal for the public. The goal of the incubator will be to nurture companies pursuing this strategy.
Critical Need for Funding
The lynch pin issue of the conference was, in order to make any headway an infusion of funding is needed to drive the field forward. Participants pointed out Maximum Life Foundation's greatest contribution would be to raise early-stage funding. It was argued that the sources of expanded funding available to researchers, both public and private, will come when this field is viewed as being capable of producing practical, consumer-targeted results and researchers have defined strategies to achieve them.
With this meeting, it became apparent there is an emerging group of researchers who would like to change the current method of operation of the aging research community. These scientists propose focus be placed more on what we can do, rather that what we have yet to discover. While there is still a wealth of unanswered questions about the mechanisms of aging, it is not necessary to have all the answers before we try to produce interventions.
We are now entering a time when it is possible to speak seriously of developing technologies that allow for alterations of the human aging process. This is due to the rapid increase in the rate of scientific discovery produced by expanding communication capabilities and the automation of the data collection process. One goal of the Maximum Life Foundation is to focus this increasing knowledge of the biological basis of aging and develop it into a prosperous interventive gerontology industry.
International Scientific Conference I
On June 24th and 25th, 2000, Maximum Life Foundation sponsored its first international anti-aging medicine scientific conference at the Manhattan Beach Marriott in Manhattan Beach, California.
Its purpose was to brainstorm ideas that could lead to breakthroughs in anti-aging medicine.
In this inaugural conference, the participants were asked to provide Maximum Life Foundation's staff with a framework to begin assessing the current state of gerontological research.
Stephen Coles, MD, PhD
Aubrey de Grey, PhD
|President, Aeiveos Corp
. Cofounder, L.A. Gerontology Research Group
Research Associate, Cambridge University, Dept. of Genetics
|Gregory Fahy, PhD
|VP & Director of R & D, 21st Century Medicine
Research Fellow, Institute for Molecular Manufacturing; Research Scientist, Zyvex Inc.
|Chris Heward, PhD||Director, Research and Development, The Kronos Group; Senior Research Fellow, UCLA Program on Medicine, Technology and Society|
|Michal Preminger, PhD
Michael Rose, PhD
|VP Drug Discovery, Compugen Inc.
Professor, Evolutionary Biology of Aging, Evolutionary Genetics, University of California, Irvine
|George Roth, PhD
Jeff Seilhamer, PhD
Greg Stock, PhD
|President Gerotech, Inc.; Senior Guest Scientist, NIA
VP, Exploratory Biology, Incyte Genomics, Inc.
Director, UCLA Program on Medicine, Technology and Society
|Bob Swanson, PhD
Rick Weindruch, PhD
|VP, Global Systems, Concurrent Technologies Corp
Professor, Medical School, University of Wisconsin-Madison
|David Kekich||President, Maximum Life Foundation|
|Peter Passaro||Vice President, Maximum Life Foundation|
|Secretary, Maximum Life Foundation
Operations Manager, Maximum Life Foundation
The following is a breakdown of the ideas discussed at the Conference.
General Thoughts in the Field
- Prioritize Interventions
- Aging Viewed as a Thermodynamic Process
- Biomarkers - Metrics of Aging
- Identify Environmental Factors
- Definitively Proving or Disproving Theories of Aging - Slaughtering Sacred Cows
- Nuclear DNA Mutations/ Telomeres - polymerase, methylase, telomere control
- Mitochondrial DNA Mutations - dodgy gamma polymerase
- Lipofuscin - Vit. E deficiency?
- Extracellular/Vascular Junk (plaques)
- Devise Methods to Take Advantage of the Emerging Technologies
- Brute Force Technologies:
- Computational Power - Bioinformatics
- Lab on a Chip Tech
- Proteomics - Protein-Protein Interactions
- Brute Force Technologies:
Social Engineering - Swaying Public Opinion
- Sell the Psychology Before Selling the Technology
- Unite Scientific and Lay Communities
- Promote the View that Aging is a Genetic Disease
- Killer Application To Get Public Behind the Science
Genomics - What Genes are Involved in Aging?
- Monitor Tissue Specific mRNA Expression Levels to Determine Which Genes are Affected by CR Regimens. Lifespan Genetics Proposes to Have this Information in Two to Three Years.
- Identify Longevity Assurance Genes and Their Regulation
Proposed Genomic Information Targets
- Long and Short Lived Opossums
- Immortal Organisms - Hydras, Sea Anemone
- Centenarians/Long Lived Families
- Find Agenes in Species with Characterized Genomes and Look for Homologues in Uncharacterized Species
- C. elegans
- Drosophila - Incyte Predicts Fly Chip Over the Next Few Months
- SNP Chips - Observe Allelic Polymorphisms within a Population of Species
- Use Transgenic (Knock in/ Knock out) Approaches to Validate the Causality of Genetic Findings.
- Studies on Regulation Glucagon/Insulin, Renin/Angiotensin/Aldosterone, and Sex Hormone Axes Changes with Aging Will Lead to Understanding of Global Genetic Regulation.
- CIStem Molecular Corp.- Regulomics -Rapidly Elucidate Cis Sequences and Trans Factors Involved in Any Genetic Circuit
- Gerotech - Study Physiology of CR, Searching for CR Mimetics
- Up-Regulation of Heat Shock Proteins and Anti-Oxidant Enzymes to Retard Aging
- Hormone Therapy - Quality of Life Kronos Group Hormone Treatment Battery Single Gene Drug Targets
- Micronutrients tested by Kronos
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Find Genes that Maintain Stem Cells as Stem Cells
- Identify Factors for Differentiation and De-differentiation (Geron/Celera Collaboration)
- Find Out Cause of Totipotency in Egg/Sperm Union (Spermatagonia/Oogonia)
- Adult Mesenchymal Cells that Act as Stem Cells -Possibility of Manipulation?
- Tissue Engineering and Complex Structure Regeneration
Things That Need to Be Developed
- Incyte Fly Chips, SNP Chips Humans 2 yrs, Mouse Chips?
- Primate - Rhesus, Chimpanzee
- Aging Genome Library (ala Cancer Genome Library)
- Mortality Rate Databases (Control for Human Experiments)
- Funding - $1.5 Million, Lab Equipment
- $400,000 Chip Building Robot
- Possible Funding By NSF
- Space - 4000 - 6000 sq ft for 8-16 Technicians
- Database Programmers
- Secured Channel Email/Phone System
- Funding - $1.5 Million, Lab Equipment
- Explore possibility of using space in P4 labs being build around the country
- Facility Capabilities
- Genetic Model Comparisons
- Chip Technology
- CR Mimetic Studies
- Explore University Affiliations for Basic Science Research
- Patent, Properties Problems
- Caltech Incubator Space
- Cyclical Contracting With Kronos Group
- Contracting With CTC, Incyte, Compugen