The process of ageing and it’s inevitable conclusion, death, should maybe not be taken for granted. A new generation of biotech startups across the world is dedicating resources towards understanding how the ageing process works and, potentially, how to slow it down or stop it altogether. The idea might seem crazy at first but the science behind it is gaining momentum.
One of the companies at the forefront of the ageing research is the SENS Research Foundation. You might have heard its founder, Aubrey de Grey, predicting that there are people alive today who will live for 1,000 years.
In 2006, de Grey was the lead author of a paper in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences that argued that ageing is a three‐stage process through which the human body generates toxins as an intrinsic side effect. “These toxins cause damage, of which a small proportion cannot be removed by any endogenous repair process and thus accumulates. This accumulating damage ultimately drives age‐related degeneration,” explains the paper. “Intervention to remove the accumulating damage would sever the link between metabolism and pathology, and so has the potential to postpone ageing indefinitely.”
Since publishing the paper, Aubrey de Grey says that his position among gerontologists — the scientists of ageing and its related ills — has gained traction. In March 2009, de Grey joined forces with Michael Kope, Jeff Hall, Sarah Marr and Kevin Perrott to create the SENS Research Foundation.
The SENS Research Foundation (SRF) is now at the forefront of the rejuvenation biotech industry. SRF’s work focuses on the application of regenerative medicine to age-related disease, with the intent of repairing underlying damage to the body’s tissues, cells, and molecules. Their goal is to help build an industry that will cure the diseases of ageing.
We believe that a world free of age-related disease is possible. That’s why we’re funding work at universities across the world.”
– SENS Research Foundation
The SENS Research Foundation is first and foremost a research-focused outreach organisation. The foundation organises the annual Undoing Aging conference series in Berlin. Its researchers also participate in summits and conferences around the world to share their perspective on gerontology. Their goal is to inform policymakers and the public about the promise of the damage-repair approach to treating age-related disease.
With an annual budget of $4 million USD, the SENS Research Foundation targets the damage of ageing itself. While the majority of existing treatments for age-related diseases try to affect the pathologies that result from ageing, the SENS Research Foundation works on therapies that would instead target and repair the ageing process itself. These treatments, which apply techniques from regenerative medicine to the damage of ageing, are known as rejuvenation biotechnologies.
About the SENS Research Foundation
The SENS Research Foundation is primarily funded by grants from foundations and non-profit organisations, but also through the donations from private contributors. You can discover their programs and learn more about their upcoming conferences here: www.sens.org.
- Time to Talk SENS: Critiquing the Immutability of Human Aging, by Aubrey D. N. J. De Grey Bruce N. Ames Julie K. Andersen Andrzej Bartke Judith Campisi Christopher B. Heward Roger J. M. Mccarter Gregory Stock, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. First published on January 24, 2006.
- Aubrey de Grey: scientist who says humans can live for 1,000 years, by Hugo Cox, The Financial Times, February 8, 2017.