Research Prize: Breaking the Toughest AGE

Posted by Mike Kope, CEO on August 27, 2010 | Founders

On behalf of SENS Foundation, I'm pleased to announce the launch of a competitive research prize for "Breaking Advanced Glycation Endproduct Glucosepane, a Protein Cross-link" through Innocentive, a global leader in open innovation.

As we work to accelerate the development of a comprehensive suite of rejuvenation biotechnologies, a key milestone will be a therapy that cleaves Advanced Glycation Endproduct (AGE) crosslinks. As we live and process carbohydrate and fat, side-reactions in our bodies cause these fuels to react with the proteins in our cells, tissues, and organs, slowly stiffening them so that they lose the elastic responsiveness that lets them carry out their essential, youthful function. The accumulation of these crosslinks in our major arteries contributes to a steady rise in blood pressure as we age, leading to strokes, loss of kidney function, and abnormal enlargement and weakening of the heart muscle; they "AGE" many other organs in more subtle ways, and are a key contributor to the many terrible complications of diabetes. Severing these molecular handcuffs will be critical to the rejuvenation of aging tissues.

As a biomedical charity,  SENS Foundation's usual method for tackling research problems is to provide direct grants for expert researchers to do critical-path work in rejuvenation science. So we have long had an open Request for Proposals (RFP) for qualified researchers to tackle this problem, addressing specifically the most important of those crosslinks -- a stubborn AGE called glucosepane. To date, we've had no takers.

That's why we've launched this $20,000 Theoretical Research prize -- not to demonstrate the breakage of glucosepane in the lab, but to give us a clear enough roadmap for the project that we can attract the further financial and scientific resources needed for a full-scale research and development project.

Now, with the critics exhausted, we've put up another $20,000 for a more constructive goal. SENS Foundation is reaching out to InnoCentive's network of more than 200,000 Solvers: in the next 60 days, give us a detailed working plan to develop a drug to give aging arteries their youthful spring, and averting age-related disease and pathology. 

"Restoring youthful elasticity and vigor to tissues is a critical goal within SENS Foundation's overall mission of biomedical rejuvenation of the whole aging person," said Aubrey de Grey, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer of SENS Foundation. "Of all protein crosslinks, glucosepane makes the single largest contribution to this stiffening, so finding a way to break it down is an important goal.  We believe there are multiple completely unexpected ways to solve this problem, and will want to hear ideas we've never thought of. If one of Innocentive's network of 200,000 Solvers can help us find a design for a successful program, it would be a major contribution toward our overall medical mission. We thank Innocentive for working with us on this Prize, and for bringing their network to bear on the challenge."

"There are astounding implications to the possibility of reversing aging and living a longer, healthy life," said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive. "SENS has identified seven categories that cause us to age. While this Challenge addresses only one type of crosslink in one category, if our Solver community can solve this Challenge, it could help SENS figure out how to attack the other types of crosslinks."

Mike Kope

Chief Executive Officer, SENS Foundation

SENS Foundation is a nonprofit medical research organization which works to develop, promote and ensure widespread access to rejuvenation biotechnologies. Our efforts combine direct research efforts with education, affiliation and outreach programs. We support key research through our internal Research Center and through centers of excellence at a variety of affiliated universities and research organizations. Our vision is a world in which all people have the opportunity to live their lives free from the diseases and disabilities of aging.

Since 2001, InnoCentive has helped corporate, government, and non-profit organizations to better innovate through crowdsourcing, strategic consulting services and internal Software-as-a-Service offerings.The company built the first global Web community for open innovation where organizations or "Seekers" submit complex problems or "Challenges" for resolution to a "Solver" community of more than 200,000 engineers, scientists, inventors, business professionals, and research organizations in more than 200 countries. Prizes for winning solutions are financial awards up to US $1,000,000. Committed to unleashing diverse thinking, InnoCentive continues to introduce new products and services exemplifying a new corporate model where return to investors and individual passion go hand in hand with solving mankind's most pressing problems.



Sjöberg JS, Bulterijs S. Characteristics, formation, and pathophysiology of glucosepane: a major protein cross-link. Rejuvenation Res. 2009 Apr;12(2):137-48. Review. PubMed PMID: 19415980.

de Grey AD. Foreseeable pharmaceutical repair of age-related extracellular damage. Curr Drug Targets. 2006 Nov;7(11):1469-77. Review. PubMed PMID: 17100587.