Mitochondrial Repair Project

Fully Funded - Thank You!

In the fall of 2015, SENS Research Foundation and lifespan.io launched a crowdfunding campaign in support of the Foundation's ongoing work to protect the elderly from the many diseases caused by mitochondrial aging.

We are immensely grateful to the 384 donors who contributed a total of $46,128, greatly exceeding our $30,000 goal.

Although the campaign is over, there's still a lot to do before the diseases of old age are brought under medical control. Please consider donating to support our other projects, or subscribing to our newsletter to be the first to learn about upcoming campaigns.

Project Donors

$1,000+

Leon Apel
David Chambers
Gregg Helt
Christopher Jones
Raphael Nicolle
Oge Nnadi
Prayag Patil
Brandon Reinhart

$100 - $999

Larry Abrams
Logan Airey
Ken Alexander
Andy
Leroy Arellano
Brian & Sabine Atkins
Joanna Baranauskas
Stephan Bardubitzki
Michael Beasley
Michael Bergerson
Ken Bolland
Jason Braswell
Bruce Burke
Melvin Burton
Lars Claussen
Justin Comito
Sarah Constantin
Paolo Costabel
Greg D'Agostino
Daniel
Dave and Alba
Aaron Davidson
Charles Demailly
Stefania Dragojlovic
Scott Dunn
Boguslaw Dziewierz
Trent Eady
Rico Ebetino
Gregg Eller
Charles Esterbrook
Richard Fontanesi
Hugh Forward
Eyal Gerber
Michele Gianella
Adrian Gonzalez
Michael Greve
Mike Hädrich
Sebastian Hagen
Hayley Harrison
Adam Herrman
Jarrad Hope
Michael Houston
Jarkko I.
Lucian Ionescu
Vic Jasin
Manas Joglekar
Daniel Johansson
Juho
Maria Konovalenko
Mykhailo Korbakov
Jesse LaRue
Marcelo Leal
Kyle Litwin
Jason Lockwood
Bev MacDonald
Michael Marye
Bryan Masters
Roy Mitsuoka
Peter Neil
Nico
Larry O'Connor
Luc Oeyen
Catalin Bogdan Pepelea
Matthew Rea
Reason
Christian Saller
Jeremy Schlatter
Lucas Schneble
SeaWyrm
Michael Sherman
Benjamin Short
Sergejs Silko
Peter Smit
Daniel Smith
Stefan
David Stephens
Gennady Stolyarov
Nazariy Storozhuk
Richard A. Sundvall
Peter Svensson
Grant Takara
Curry Taylor
Jay Tkachuk
Anton Tokmakov
Simon Tost
Martin Towner
Dustin D. Trammell
Nathan Wailes
Jeff Walker
Sandra Watt
Mark Whelan
Eric Williams
Chong Kai Wong
Sherri Wretham
Arsen Zahray

$10 - $99

Jean-Pierre Abello
Jason Adair
Jeremy Albuixech
Alex
Donald Alligood
Clay Anderson
Bobby Andishmand
Steven Ashton
Gina Barton
Adam Bazinet
Anatoly Belikov
Myles Berdock
Ryan Berkani
Florent Berthet
Michael Bertrand
Mary Beth
Gatis Birkens
Cameron Bloomer
Vivian Bohn
Sagan Bolliger
Luca Bonaldo
Judith Bongiovi
Gianluca Tabbita Bonifazi
Enrico Bottani
Wade Bradley
Arthur Breitman
Franklin Brosenne
Michael Brown
Guy Bryant
Sven Bulterijs
Louis Burke
Eugene Bystrak
Burly Cain
Idan Casif
Fabio Cassanelli
Nader Chehab
Debbie Cole
Jonathan Cole
Terry Cole
Karen Comito
Vince Comito
Corbin
Franco Cortese
Johnny Courmontagne
Adrian Crisan
Walter Crompton
Wei Cui
Aaron Dallin
Darrin
Tyler Dauster
Rick Davis
Milo de Vries
Edouard Debonneuil
William DeVore
Alain Domissy
Dean Donovan
Nick Dragojlovic
Frank Dremel
Horia Dumitru
Steven Eastcott
Jonathan Eden
Daniel Ellis
Noa Eshkar
Noah Ewing
Charles Farquhar
Adam Fishbane
Blaine Ford
Rob Freeman
Veronica Gaglione
Guillaume Galdrat
Zackerie Galhardo
Deepak Ganger
Nathan Gardiner
Carl Gettleman
Aaron Giterman
Kevin Goldstein
Raymond Gough
Rhonda Green
Grego
Anders Grönnevik
James Grugan
Lech Gudalewicz
Jeffrey Haas
Jarel Hambenne
Raymond Hardy
Norbert Harjadi
Bill Hees
André Heinonen
Richard Heinz
Rasmus Henriksen
Lukas Henschke
Shane Heres
Richard Herrell
Adam Hill
Kevin Hink
Simon Holk
Earl Hollembaek
Christer Holmberg
Sam Holmes
Tim Holmes
Anders Holmgren
Matthew Horrigan
Amund Hov
Adam Hruby
Tyler Hruby
Zoltan Istavn
Joshua Jacobs
Abraham Jaleel
Jimmy Janow
Rosemarie Jauch
Chris Jefferis
Ed Johnson
Nathan Johnson
James Joyce
Nicholas Juntilla
Koo Karimi
Ty Kenny
Andrea Kenyon
Sadi Khan
Nicolai Kilian
David King
Bence Kodaj
Eric Krastel
Ramana Kumar
Scott Lafferty
Cryonica Lamm
David Landau
Ludvig Larsson
Jet Lee
Matt Lee
Nathan Lefler
Daniel Lemire
Edward Lemon
Dick Lepre
Jason LeSage
Karolis Lesevicius
Jay Lewis
Steven Liao
Justin Lockhart
Francisco J.Q. Lombardero
Mohir (Michael) Lustig
Vince Mahoney
John Mainer
Lorenzo Marangoni
Marcel
Douglas Marsh
Billy Martin
Pedro Correa Martín-Arroyo
Tyler Mayhall
Marcel Mayr
Chris McAulay
Robert McBrayer
Jesse McClusky
Brandon McIntosh
Kate McMillen
Oliver Medvedik
Jonno Meindert
Joseph Meisenhelder
Daniel Melo
Perry Metzger
John Mitchell
Adrian Molenaar
George Munteanu
Adam Muntner
Nathan Murfey
Thomas Murtagh
Josip Musac
Christopher Myles
Linette Newburn
Chris Niemeyer
Kurren Nischal
Scott Niznik
Michal Nowakiewicz
Matthew O'Connor
Alexander O'Neal
Michael Ostrander
Milind Padki
Vincenzo Paduano
Austin Parish
Anat Paskin-Cherniavsky
Piotr Pawlik
Hank Pellissier
Mark Penner
Martin Penny
Jason Perkins
Martin Peterson
Deepak Pillai
Jeff Pizanti
Tomislav Plesa
Dean Pomerleau
Kathleen Powers
Paul Pratt
Eric Priewe
Martin Prunières
Audrey Quach
Toby Rane
Ilya Raykhel
Tammy Richard
Neil Richler
Francois-Rene Rideau
Solomon Roskin
John Rothe
Mathieu Roy
Ruben
Jessica Sacco
Matthew Sacco
Daniel Sacilotto
Tom Sanders
David Saum
Andrea Sbarbaro
Tyler Schroer
Eric Schulke
Daniel Scott
Hunter Secrest
Andrea Shapiro
Nick Shapiro
Thomas Greenaway Short
Grant Simmons
Rodney Skilton
Dean Smart
Brian So
Paul Spiegel
Peter Spriggs
Philip Steele
Tim Steeman
Amanda Stiles
Eugen Suman
Marian Szczepkowski
Ori Takemura
Carl Tasios
Jacob Tennis
Brian Thomas
Adam Thomison
Saudina Torres
Reuben Tracey
Jeffrey Tsao
Walter Tseng
Steven Tuttle
Samuel Ulloa
Vladimir Uzun
Otto Valtakoski
Benjamin Van Eerden
Alessandro Varetto
Lando Verardo
Dmitry Veselov
Aaron Vollrath
Will Ware
Nell Watson
Darrell Weaver
Brandyn Webb
Lee Wegenast
Morten Weinreich
Jonathan West
Carl White
Freya Wilde
David Wilkins
Jeremy Wilkins
Deane Williams
Mike Williams
Spencer Wolf
Jan Wong
Shawn Wretham
Omer Yousuf
Ben Zealley
Aaron Zinger
 
 
Jason Zubo

MitoSENS Mitochondrial Repair Project Description

Each cell in the body is dependent on the efficient generation of cellular energy by mitochondria to stay alive. Critical to this process are genes encoded within the mitochondrial genome. Over time however, mutations in these genes occur as a result of constant exposure to reactive oxygen species produced by oxidative phosphorylation, the mitochondrial energy generation process. Unlike genes within the nucleus, mitochondria lack an efficient system to repair damaged DNA. This leads to accumulated mutations, resulting in mitochondrial defects and an increase in oxidative stress throughout the body. Closely correlated with this is the observation that organisms which age more slowly also consistently display lower rates of mitochondrial free radical damage. Thus, reversing and/or preventing damage to mitochondrial DNA may be a key factor in slowing the aging process.

At the SENS Research Foundation, we are in the early stages of creating an innovative system to repair these mitochondrial mutations. If this project is successful we will have demonstrated, for the first time, a mechanism that can provide your cells with a modified backup copy of the entire mitochondrial genome. This genome would then reside within the protective confines of the cell’s nucleus, thereby mitigating damage to the mitochondrial genome. In fact, during the long course of evolution, this gradual transfer of genetic information into the nucleus has already occurred with the majority of mitochondrial genome, leaving behind a mere 13 protein coding genes within the mitochondria. Demonstrating the effectiveness of this technology would be a major milestone in the prevention and reversal of aging in the human body.

Edward James Olmos describes the SENS Mitochondrial Repair Plan

We are also developing a unique method for guiding the products of these nuclear encoded mitochondrial genes back into the mitochondria, where they can then properly function. Over the last decade, engineering this last step has been the major bottleneck in achieving effective results. In our novel system, the mRNA from an engineered mitochondrial gene is guided back to the mitochondrial surface, where it is then translated into a protein by the organelle’s co-translational import system (see figure below). Once imported, it is then incorporated into the correct location within the inner mitochondrial membrane.

Our precise targeting is achieved by adding a specific sequence “tag” to both ends of the mRNA. These tags then serve to guide the information containing mRNA molecule to the mitochondrial surface. Our prior research indicates that our system of tagging yields a significantly higher efficiency of import to mitochondria than any previously published research.

SENS-data-slide
Visualization of engineered ATP8 expressed in mutant cells

Successfully completing this project will mean that we have developed a groundbreaking method that will provide us with the capability to safeguard the mitochondrial genome by creating a backup copy in the nuclear genome. The overall goal will be to test this improved targeting technology so that it can be optimally refined for use in rescuing mutated mitochondrial DNA, and thus prevent and cure what may be one of the major causes of cellular aging.

In our current research, we are using cells derived from a patient suffering from a rare mitochondrial disease, that are null for the mitochondrial ATP8 gene (i.e., the ATP8 protein is completely absent). We have inserted our improved versions of the ATP8 gene, equipped with our specialized mitochondrial tagging system, into the nuclear genome. Inserting it into the nuclear genome helps to protect the gene from oxidative damage, while our tagging system will help guide the functional protein into the mitochondria where it is needed.

Donor rewards include exclusive SRF merchandise as
well as private meetings with the MitoSENS team,
Dr. de Grey, and even legendary actor Edward James Olmos!

We need your support at this critical juncture of the MitoSENS project. The MitoSENS team has already demonstrated the rescue of cells containing mitochondrial mutations, and has recently generated highly promising preliminary data showing the rescue of the complete loss of a mitochondrial gene. Our next steps will focus on improving the effectiveness of the targeting system, so that we can repeat our success with one mitochondrial gene to all thirteen. We will then transition this work into animal models of mitochondrial dysfunction. This would be a crucial step in what may be the development of an eventual cure for aging and aging related diseases.

We have a talented team of highly trained mitochondrial biologists working on MitoSENS. Right now the rate-limiting factor is the cost of the expensive reagents that we use for these experiments. Increasing our funding with this campaign will allow us to double the pace of our research and bring results to the public that much faster. We have made preliminary progress on rescuing function with a second gene, ATP6, and your support will help us perfect our targeting of both ATP8 and ATP6. This requires more cells, more viruses, and many new synthetic gene sequences. Specifically, we will spend your generous donations on cell culture reagents, oxygen consumption measurements, virus production, quantitative reverse transcription PCR, DNA synthesis services, and publication of our results in a peer-reviewed journal.

Your support will help take us there.

Thank You.