To accelerate access to healthy longevity for all of us we directly fund cutting-edge research on molecular and cellular repair to combat the root causes of aging.
Forever Healthy Fellowship in Rejuvenation Biotechnology
In order to inspire more young scientists to join the quest to get aging under full medical control, we have created the Forever Healthy Fellowship in Rejuvenation Biotechnology.
The fellowship is open to Ph.D.'s (or equivalent degree) with project proposals that clearly identify the form of cellular and molecular aging damage to be targeted and that describe a strategy with significant translational potential related to direct detection, removal, or repair of damage caused by aging.
For selected candidates, the fellowship covers support for a three-year project, to be carried out at the SENS Research Center in Mountain View, California. It includes the salary for the fellow, benefits, supplies, and space in our fully equipped research lab. Nearby universities available for collaboration include Stanford, UCSF, UC Berkeley, The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, and UC Santa Cruz.
Basic research on glucosepane crosslinks
Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) comprise a class of modifications of proteins formed from chemical reactions between sugars and proteins. AGEs are generated during the aging process, and their excessive formation is implicated in conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease and has been shown to induce inflammation, oxidative stress, and other pathological effects. It is hypothesized that disrupting AGE crosslinks can reverse degenerative effects in tissue.
To test this hypothesis, AGEs including glucosepane, pentosinane, and methylglyoxal-derived hydroimidazolone have been synthesized. With these synthesized constructs, the Yale team is developing reagents to characterize the chemical properties of AGEs and study their interactions with proteins in cellular and tissue systems.
These assays reproduce the situation in the body and act as guides in the development of therapeutics that can inhibit or prevent the formation of AGEs, thereby reversing the pathology associated with the human aging process.
Yale University, Dr. David Spiegel
Search for unknown, high-abundance tissue crosslinks
Arteries slowly stiffen with age, in large part through adventitious cross-linking of the structural proteins collagen and elastin. Developing rejuvenation biotechnologies that break these crosslinks is key to restoring youthful arterial function. However, it is vital that we understand which crosslinks do the most damage to our cellular structure.
Dr. Clark has established analytical methods necessary for the study of extracellular tissues and obtained preliminary data on the aging of tissues in mice. This data has been used to determine where the analytical focus should be both in future studies and in the development of new methods.
The entire process from tissue isolation through to the final analytical methods has been observed, demonstrating that the team has produced a solid set of analytical methods and that we are one step closer to understanding the role of cross-linking within our arteries.
The Babraham Institute, Dr. Jonathan Clark
Removal of tangled tau proteins
The formation of tau tangles is suspected to be a major contributor to the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. The project will explore the elimination of these age-related waste products in brain cells, using the same approach that SENS Research Foundation has applied in its atherosclerosis and macular degeneration research projects in recent years. The ultimate goal is to find treatments for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Prof. Julie K. Andersen
Allotopic expression of mitochondrial genes
The accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria with severe mutations in their mitochondrial DNA is a significant consequence of aging and is implicated in age-related diseases as well as in several currently incurable inherited mitochondrial disorders.
The SENS Research Foundation Mitochondria Group’s primary goal is to find ways to rescue mutations in mitochondrial DNA. Their main approach is to re-engineer mitochondrial genes and place them in the nucleus.
The team has had phenomenal success in rescuing cells derived from a patient by expressing two re-engineered genes simultaneously and have recently published this work, which covers the mitochondrial genes ATP6 and ATP8, in Nucleic Acids Research.
SENS Research Foundation, Dr. Matthew O’Connor
Development of monoclonal antibodies against glucosepane
Glucosepane is the most prevalent crosslink found in collagen in people over 65 years of age. It has been strongly correlated to age-related tissue damage through various mechanisms.
In addition to their basic research on crosslinks, the team at the Spiegel lab is now utilizing their novel synthetic glucosepane derivatives to develop the first monoclonal anti-glucosepane antibodies.
Access to these antibodies would provide discrete, specific reagents for labeling, studying, and perhaps also cleaving glucosepane in vivo. Such tools have tremendous potential to reverse age-related damage as it occurs in human tissues.
Yale University, Dr. David Spiegel
Increased safety of gene therapies
Many potential treatments of age-related diseases require the addition of new genes to the genome of cells in the body, a technology known as somatic gene therapy. The technology has been hampered, up until now, by the inability to control where the gene is inserted.
That lack of control resulted in a significant risk of insertion in a location that encourages the cell to become malignant. The SENS Research Foundation has devised a new method for inserting genes into a pre-defined location. In this program, this will be done as a two-step process, in which first CRISPR is used to create a "landing pad" for the gene, and then the gene is inserted using an enzyme that only recognizes the landing pad.
The SENS Research Foundation has created “maximally modifiable mice” that already have the landing pad, and this project will evaluate how well the insertion step works in different tissues.
SENS Research Foundation &
The Buck Institute for Research on Aging
Removal of cells secreting toxic factors
When our cells detect that they may become cancerous or contribute to other forms of abnormal growth, they trigger machinery that stops them from growing to pre-empt the risk. These non-dividing “senescent” cells develop resistance to signals for apoptosis (programmed cell death) and secrete inflammatory signaling molecules and protein-degrading enzymes into their local environment. This latter phenomenon, which is thought to contribute to inflammatory and disease-promoting processes in aging, is called the senescence-associated secretory phenotype, or SASP.
The Buck senescent cell team has achieved some promising results via experiments with a natural compound called apigenin, which appears to both interrupt the SASP and potentially ablate senescent cells themselves.
The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Dr. Judy Campisi
Removal of senescent immune cells
Various types of unwanted cells accumulate during aging and affect the function of many systems, including the immune system. Some of these cells are cleared by the immune system itself, but some are not, possibly leading to a vicious cycle of decline. The project explores techniques for eliminating these cells and rejuvenating the immune system by forcing the unwanted immune cells to “commit suicide", and/or by augmenting the cell-killing function of healthy immune cells and thus augmenting the aging immune system’s defenses against senescent cells.
The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Dr. Judy Campisi
SRF’s educational efforts provide support for aspiring young scientists from their elementary school studies through their postdoctoral training. Since its inception three years ago, SRF Education has supported undergraduate research efforts primarily through its Summer Scholars and Literature Review Programs.
This year, SRF is launching programs to begin supporting postgraduate training of rejuvenation biotechnology researchers. Through a partnership with the University of Oxford and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, SRF has started supporting the training of graduate students interested in pursuing a career in rejuvenation biotechnology.
Also this year, the Literature Review Program will transition into a remote, non-bench research program. Student volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in research studying obstacles blocking or slowing the development of therapeutics as well as research scrutinizing possible solutions to remove or mitigate those problems. These new project offerings will be developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Centre for the Advancement of Sustainable Medical Innovation.
SENS Research Foundation, Dr. Gregory Chin
Strategies to remove lipofuscin from aging cells
Many diseases of aging are driven in part by the accumulation of waste particular to specific cell types. For example, atherosclerotic lesions form when disabled, immobilized immune cells adhere in the arterial wall after taking in 7-ketocholesterol and other damaged cholesterol byproducts to protect the arterial wall from their toxicity. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are also in part lysosomal diseases.
Many types of cells that rarely or never divide throughout adult life accumulate a more generic form of lysosomal waste known as lipofuscin, which impacts such critical cell types as neural, cardiac muscle, and skeletal muscle cells.
The team at Rice University investigates how to rapidly generate lipofuscin for quicker screening and researches small molecules that can both remove already present lipofuscin as well as native lipofuscin.
Rice University, Dr. Pedro Alvarez
Fight Aging 2015 Fund-Raiser
In the last quarter of 2015, Fight Aging!, Josh Triplett, Christophe and Dominique Cornuejols, Stefan Richter and Michael Greve of Forever Healthy collaborated to create a $125,000 matching fund for SENS donations. From October 1st to December 31st, 2015 $1 donated to SENS rejuvenation research was matched with $1 from the fund. It was our challenge to the community: help us raise a total of $250,000 for research in a few short months.
These are critical years in the development of this field, a disruptive period of transition from the ineffective approaches of the past to a near future of far more effective means of treating aging. The greater the funding for early-stage research, the faster the progress towards treatments for aging.
Victory: $250,000 Raised for SENS Research (fight-aging.org)