Of all the things that researchers could achieve with biotechnology in the near future, control over aging is by far the most important.
Extensive research currently under way in the science of Rejuvenation Biotechnology, utilising new advances in stem-cell technology, holds considerable promise for treating diseases that are currently untreatable.
(Put simply, stem cells are natures building blocks, with the unique potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. They also serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing without limit to replenish other cells as long as a person or animal is alive).
Article by “Fight Aging”
An article, recently published by “Fight Aging”Provides an important update and insight into where the Development of Rejuvenation Biotechnology can potentially go in the next 5 years.
If you are over 50 this will be important for you personally, and to your friends and family.
Whether these developments will actually happen will not be a matter of proving the science which is already at an advanced stage.
It will depend to a great extent on whether the continuing development of already ongoing research can attract independent funding from sources genuinely interested in making products and treatments widely available asap.
Currently some important elements of this research are dependent on ongoing funding from the big pharma companies, who’s interest in getting exclusive rights to this type of development may, in some instances, be motivated by self-interest in slowing progress in treatments that would potentially make their current money spinning products redundant.
Summary of Article
So here’s my summary. I have tried to simplify the text by removing, or explaining some of the more complex terminology (no easy task).
I have also provided a link to the original article at the end, and a link to the “Fight Aging” website for those readers wishing to go deeper or learn more about the whole broad topic of Longevity Science.
I’m just about old enough to remember a time when 2020 was the distant future of science fiction novels, too far away to be thinking about in concrete terms; a time in which anything beyond our comprehension at that time might happen.
Several anything’s have in fact happened, most notably the internet, mobile phone technology, and the ongoing revolution in biotechnology that has transformed the laboratory world, but is getting to the practical arena in clinics all too slowly.
Today, we are however, close enough to be making plans and figuring out what we expect to be doing when the third decade of the 21st century gets underway in 2020.
We don’t yet have regeneration of organs and limbs, or therapies to greatly extend life, but for these and many other staples of golden age science fiction, the scientific community has come close enough to be able to talk in detail about the roads to achieving those goals.
Of all the things that researchers might achieve with biotechnology in the near future, control over aging is by far the most important.
Aging is the greatest cause of death and suffering in the world. That may change, however.
SENS Research Foundation is a public charity that is transforming the way the world researches and treats age-related disease.
SENS, is short for ‘Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence’ (senescence is the condition or process of body cell deterioration with age, due to loss of the cell’s power of division and growth) and it presents a scientific view of aging as an accumulation of specific forms of cell and tissue damage, pulling in a century of evidence from many diverse areas of medical science to support this conclusion. (n.b.You might need to read that again)
Aging happens because the normal operation of our cellular biochemistry creates damage, wear and tear at the level of molecules and molecular structures, and some of that damage accumulates to cause failure of tissues and organs, and ultimately death.
That explanation for aging is coupled to the SENS portfolio of research programs that aim to repair this damage: for every type of damage, the appropriate form of repair technology can be described in great detail. The only thing remaining is to build these repair therapies and test them, to see whether or not they produce the expected result of rejuvenation and longer healthy lives.
It has taken a long time, twenty years or so, to make the treatment of aging a mainstream idea in the research community, and for the public to start to catch up.
It hasn’t helped that the pursuit of rejuvenation has been a realm occupied only by science fiction, frauds and the delusional for millennia. It has taken many years of hard work for the evidence and the results indicating that rejuvenation can be achieved to circulate and be more widely accepted.
Nevertheless, the SENS approach to aging, to head straight for damage repair and rejuvenation, and none of this messing around with drugs to try to slightly slow the pace at which damage accumulates, remains a minority vision at this time.
Nonetheless, SENS researchers and advocates have made great progress on very little funding, and as a result, are now near the point at which the first results will emerge from the labs into the wider-world.
The next five years are critical precisely because the first few start-up companies to work on the first rejuvenation therapies following the SENS model of damage repair will succeed or fail in this short span of time.
The most important of these companies at this point are probably Oisin Biotechnologies, and UNITY Biotechnology, both working on senescent cell clearance (i.e. removing dead or no longer functional cells from the body). According to “Fight Aging”, they have what looks like the best chance of success given the present state of the science, and they are already well under-way.
Technical success does not, however, necessarily translate to rapid clinical availability in medicine. E.g. Pentraxin Therapeutics and their work on transthyretin amyloid clearance, (Transthyretin amyloidosis is a slowly progressive condition characterized by the build-up of abnormal deposits of a protein called amyloid) to date they have been locked into a development program with GlaxoSmithKline that took six years to get to a small clinical trial.
There is no sign that this will move any faster following the success of that trial, or that it will be made available for anyone other than late stage amyloidosis patients. (sens.org believes that clearance of transthyretin amyloid should be undergone by every human being every few years after the age of 40, given that build-up of this form of amyloid contributes to heart disease and a range of other conditions – but that development group simply isn’t heading in that direction).
It is one thing to catch the interest of Big Pharma, another thing entirely to make them work rapidly, or to agree with the vision of treating aging as a medical condition.
One has to wonder whether their true reason for getting exclusive rights to this type of development is motivated by self-interest in slowing its progress!
Thus there is a very large difference between:
(a) a world in which research and development companies conservatively sell to Big Pharma or raise funds themselves to creep through the regulatory process to gain approval for use with a tiny number of patients in the late stages of aging, and
(b) a world in which the first destination available will be clinical availability via so called “medical tourism” in regulatory regions where only safety must be demonstrated, and anyone can walk in and undergo treatment.
Stem cell medicine would be nowhere near as far along without the decade of its widespread availability outside the US and Europe.
SENS Foundation is very much in favor of a similar progression of availability and development for the range of potentially useful human gene therapies that will be developed in the years ahead, and for the first SENS rejuvenation technologies, such as senescent cell clearance.
More importantly, early success in clinical development of a treatment that meaningfully addresses easily measured metrics of aging after one set of treatments will be widely noted.
That will go a long way towards opening many doors to much larger sources of funding which would have a dramatic positive impact in accelerating the availability of treatments and save millions of unnecessary and preventable premature deaths (That could include you and I!)
Either this happens soon, for the companies already under way, or they will fail, possibly damaging the view of SENS, even should that failure happen for reasons unrelated to the technical aspects of the work.
Failure will push back ultimate success in the medical control of aging for years, and that has an enormous cost associated with it:
Tens of millions of lives lost, and hundreds of millions suffering due to age-related conditions that might otherwise have been turned back.
“Fight Aging” provides a weekly digest of news and commentary for thousands of subscribers interested in the latest longevity science: progress towards the medical control of aging in order to prevent age-related frailty, suffering, and disease, as well as improvements in the present understanding of what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to extending healthy life.
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