Job Opportunity: Director of Education

Job Type: Full-time
Number of Positions: 1
Title: Director of Education
Salary: Pay is salaried, commensurate with experience and local rates

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS:

  • MS in a biological science (Ph.D. preferred)
  • 2 years of laboratory research experience (3+ years preferred)
  • 2 years of  experience in an educational setting (3+ years and undergraduate experience preferred)

SENS Research Foundation (SRF) is hiring a Director of Education for our Research Center (RC) located in Mountain View, CA. SRF is an exciting cutting-edge non-profit dedicated to transforming the way the world researches and treats age-related diseases.

We seek a Director of Education to plan, develop, and run SRF’s educational efforts. The Director will coordinate the summer internship program and Master’s students and will have the opportunity to initiate new programs to introduce students and adult learners to the SENS approach to aging. The Director will report to the SRF Executive Director/CEO.

The ideal candidate for this full-time position has a Ph.D. in a chemical/biological science, 3+ years of research experience, and 3+ years working with students, preferably at the collegiate level. Prior experience running an internship program and/or teaching is desired. The candidate must be adaptable, a team player, self-motivated, and interested in the SENS mission. Duties will include advertising, applicant evaluation, and mentorship for the summer internship program as well as recruitment of new host labs and companies. Master’s student duties will include advertising, recruitment, and mentorship of students in the labs at the SRF Research Center. Opportunities for enhancement of current programs and addition of new educational efforts will abound.

We offer an excellent benefits package including paid vacation and sick leave, fully covered health and dental insurance (inclusive of dependents), an FSA program, and a company-matched 401(k) plan, all of which is offered after a 90-day introductory period. SENS Research Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. We may sponsor a visa for international applicants.

This position is available now and will be filled as soon as the qualified candidate is found. Salary is commensurate with the job title and experience level.

TO APPLY
Interested candidates should apply by emailing a cover letter and current CV to [email protected].

NIA Reports Senolytics Show Potential to Protect Against Coronavirus in Older Mice

The National Institute on Aging reports that: “Cellular senescence, an aging mechanism in which cells lose normal function, may contribute to a worse response in human cells to COVID-19 and in older mice to a similar coronavirus — but a class of drug known as senolytics decreased adverse responses and increased survival for the mice. The preclinical findings from a study funded in part by NIA were recently published in Science.”

They note that as the number of senescent cells increase with age, the cells release inflammatory factors that both interfere with the immune system, and contribute to the general risk factor of aging for almost all chronic diseases. This is also the focus of one of SRF’s projects that is working on selectively removing senescent cells and reversing the damage caused by them to rejuvenate the immune system.

According to the article, “Researchers from several NIA-funded laboratories at the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, and Indiana University . . . exposed cell and tissue samples, donated from humans, to SARS-CoV-2, a human coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 . . . ” and found that senolytic cells produced more inflammatory factors that “ . . . suppressed viral defense mechanisms and increased the expression of cell surface receptor proteins that the virus attaches to in order to enter the cell.”

In mouse models, viral exposure resulted in near 100% fatality for older mice, whereas 89% or the younger mice survived. However, treating older mice with senolytics “. . . decreased inflammation signals, improved the immune response, and increased the survival rate by 50%.”

The report suggests that humans with increased senolytic cells due to aging and other chronic conditions may benefit from increased protection from the COVID-19 virus and improved survival rates. The research continues, focusing on testing senolytic drugs in older COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized or residing in nursing homes.

For more on SENS Research Foundation’s efforts to reverse the damage of senolytic cells, please read about our ApoptoSENS research.

SENS Research Foundation wishes you Happy International Longevity Day and Longevity Month!

The United Nations General Assembly voted to establish October 1st as the ‘International Day of Older Persons’ as recorded in Resolution 45/106. The holiday was observed for the first time on October 1st, 1991.

Following this tradition, longevity research activists from around the world call this day and the month of October; International Longevity Day and International Longevity Month.

Events focused on supporting biomedical research to further understand the biology of aging and extend healthy human lifespan, take place internationally throughout the entire month of October.

Since 2013 hundreds of events have been organized and we hope this tradition will continue and will keep strengthening the longevity advocacy community.

If you organize an event, create a publication or make any other effort to promote International Longevity Day/Month, we would love to learn about it! You can let us know by emailing us at [email protected]

Reimagine Aging
The SRF Team

Annual Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week 2021

SENS Research Foundation joins the Mitochondrial Medicine Society and MITOAction.org during the third week of September in raising awareness for the Annual Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week.

Mitochondrial function declines with age, and these dysfunctional mitochondria adversely contribute to several metabolic and neuromuscular diseases. The mitoSENS team is working tirelessly to help discover the science to reverse and/or prevent damage to mitochondrial DNA. 

The SENS team is developing an innovative approach to repair mitochondrial mutations that, if successful, 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.

Demonstrating the effectiveness of this technology would be a major milestone in the prevention and reversal of aging in the human body and it will also help address mitochondrial disease that affects people of all ages, including children born with mutations in this mtDNA. 

Learn more about our project and team here: Engineering New Mitochondrial Genes to Restore Mitochondrial Function MitoSENS

 

 

Job Opportunity: Accounts Payable Clerk

Job Type: Full-time
Number of Positions: 1
Title: Accounts Payable Clerk
Salary: commensurate with job title

SENS Research Foundation (SRF) is hiring an Accounts Payable Clerk for our foundation located in Mountain View, CA. SRF is an exciting, cutting edge non-profit dedicated to transforming the way the world researches and treats age-related disease.

QUALIFICATIONS

Qualified candidates will have a minimum of an Associate Degree in Accounting (or relevant field) and previous accounts payable experience. Direct experience or training with Quickbooks software is preferred.  Other qualifications or skills should include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Thoroughness and organized
  • Efficient and capable of meeting regular deadlines
  • Flexible and willing to learn new skills
  • Familiar with California state accounting principals and guidelines
  • Data entry skills
  • General math skills

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES

This is a full-time position and will be remote to start – however that may change post-COVID concerns. We are willing to be flexible for the right candidate. Duties will include:

  • Completes payments and controls expenses by processing, verifying, and reconciling invoices.
  • Reconciles accounts by verifying entries and comparing financial reports to account balances.
  • Charges expenses to accounts and classes by analyzing invoice/expense reports; recording entries.
  • Pays vendors by approving invoices online, scheduling and preparing checks, and resolving purchase order, contract, invoice, or payment discrepancies and documentation.
  • Ensures credit is received for outstanding memos.
  • Issues stop-payments or purchase order amendments.
  • Receives and verifies expense reports.
  • Maintains accounting ledgers by verifying and posting account transactions.
  • Maintains historical records by filing documents in online filing system.
  • Reports sales taxes by calculating requirements on paid invoices.
  • Creates and disperses monthly budget vs actual reports to various internal programs.
  • Works closely with SRF’s CPA and outside accounting firm.
  • Protects organization’s value by keeping information confidential.
  • Updates job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities.

We offer an excellent benefits package including paid vacation and sick leave, fully covered health insurance (inclusive of dependents), an FSA program, and a company matched 401(k) plan, all of which is offered after a 90-day introductory period. SENS Research Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.

The position is available now and will be filled as soon as the qualified candidate is found. Salary is commensurate with job title.

TO APPLY
Interested candidates should apply by submitting their resumes and cover letters to [email protected].

Job Opportunity: Group Leader – Mouse Aging Interventions

Job Type: Full-time
Number of Positions: 1
Title: Group Leader
Salary: Pay is salaried ~ $80,000.00 /year

QUALIFICATIONS

  • BS, BA, or MS in Biology, Neuroscience, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology or related field
  • 5+ years’ laboratory experience
  • Automated microscopy
  • Demonstrated supervisory and interpersonal skills
  • Works effectively in a fast-paced environment and can manage multiple priorities and project timelines
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and communicate with laboratory staff & other PIs
  • Ability to maintain complete and organized records/reports
  • Experience in pre-clinical development desirable
  • Knowledge of aging biology highly desirable

SENS Research Foundation (SRF) is hiring a Group Leader for our Research Center (RC) located in Silicon Valley (Mountain View, CA). SRF is an exciting, cutting edge non-profit dedicated to transforming the way the world researches and treats aging. Globally recognized as the pioneer in efforts to target aging—the number one risk factor for diseases including Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Position summary
We are seeking a flexible and highly motivated individual to establish a new group at SENS Research Foundation. Responsibilities include research as well as technical and organizational leadership. The ideal candidate is a person that has a passion for lifespan extension and has a desire to push interventions towards translation. Experience in a start-up environment or in a pharma company preferred.

SRF is a fast-paced environment, and the successful candidate will be extremely organized and efficient. We are looking for someone with expertise in molecular biology, histology, in vivo imaging and rodent work who has served in a managerial role and is familiar with regulatory, training, and logistics tasks. This individual must be proficient with writing scientific and technical reports and presentation of results at meetings/conferences. The Group Leader must be able to work independently as well as nurture lab cohesiveness and team development.

The project would be focused on testing combinations of aging interventions in rodents. The first combination to be tested will be senolytics and stem cells. The group leader will be responsible for researching further combinations and establishing lifespan testing program.

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Establish the new group
  • Oversee/perform laboratory instructions
  • Organize and oversee the daily operations of the team
  • Mentor and supervise new team members
  • Enter and analyze data and maintain research data files
  • Develop and implement appropriate administrative policies and procedures for the laboratory
  • Review, and approve SOPs

Our leadership team is a group of mission-driven, kind, and thoughtful individuals. We take pride in evolving a work environment that fosters collaboration, open communication, and authenticity. We believe that great results are best delivered by a highly creative group working in concert. We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company; we do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.

We offer an excellent benefits package including paid vacation and sick leave, fully covered health insurance (inclusive of dependents), an FSA program, and a company matched 401(k) plan, all of which is offered after a 90-day introductory period. SENS Research Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.

The position is available now and will be filled as soon as the qualified candidate is found.

TO APPLY
Please submit your CV along with a Cover Letter to [email protected]

COVID-19 considerations:

All employees are to follow COVID restrictions, which will lighten as our workplace is vaccinated. All employees are expected to wear PPE. Vaccinating is strongly encouraged.

Job Opportunity: Outreach Coordinator

Job Type: Full-time
Number of Positions: 1
Title: Outreach Coordinator
Salary: Pay is salaried, commensurate with job experience.

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree preferred but not required. 
  • Ideally living in the Los Angeles or Mountain View (CA) area but not required. Remote/virtual will be considered.
  • 3-5 years of proven work experience in social media, community management and/or digital strategy
  • 2 years of experience as Executive Assistant, or similar role, ideally in a non-profit. 
  • Solid understanding of social media platforms functioning required, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok.
  • Solid understanding and experience using CRMs, preferably Salesforce.
  • Computer and Technical savvy with a variety of technologies (e.g., Google Suite of products, Zoom, Outlook, Excel, Apple products).
  • Excellent written communication skills and acute attention to detail and superior organizational and problem-solving abilities.
  • Exceptional time-management, organizational skills, and multitasking.
  • Must be absolutely fluent in English.
  • A professional demeanor whether speaking to others in person, over the phone or via email.
  • Positive attitude in a fast-paced work environment. 
  • Ability to thrive in a rapidly changing field and workplace.

• Knowledge of the Rejuvenation Biotechnology field and advocacy to the longevity community preferred but not required.

SENS Research Foundation (SRF) is hiring an Outreach Coordinator. SRF is an exciting, cutting-edge non-profit organization located in the heart of Silicon Valley dedicated to transforming the way the world researches and treats aging.

We seek an Outreach Coordinator to join our small but dynamic Outreach team. Our Outreach Coordinator will work supporting our Director of Outreach, managing our Social Media channels, working with our team to keep a consistent flow of engaging and interesting digital content, and managing the Salesforce Database and Gift Administration, among other responsibilities.

Some of the department’s goals are:

  • to enhance SRF’s fundraising capacity
  • to expand our network of supporters by building new relationships that can lead to more public support
  • to raise awareness of SRF’s work and mission
  • to motivate, inspire and gain new supporters, while keeping existing relationships strong and developing them further.

Job responsibilities include:

  • Providing administrative assistance and support to the Director of Outreach. 
  • Populating our social media channels with provided content.
  • Maintaining a unified brand voice across our different social media platforms.
  • Monitoring social media channels for industry trends.
  • Collaborating with our marketing and operations team to create a social media calendar.
  • Project management and event coordination.
  • Preparing updated major donor lists and progress reports.
  • Managing the Salesforce Database and Gift Administration.
  • Maintaining donor and prospect contact records and research in Salesforce database.
  • Helping with logistics with SRF sponsorships, i.e. setting up and populating virtual booths, manning booths (in person and virtual), shipping promotional materials to conferences.
  • Providing event-logistics support for hosted dinners, friendraisers, fundraisers, and other larger events.
  • Support with our SRF Marketplace, i.e. vendor communications, orders, keeping stock records, etc.
  • Managing the Director of Outreach’s calendar, including making appointments, coordinating Zoom meetings, in-person meetings, travel arrangements when needed. 

The ideal candidate is someone with a professional and positive attitude and great appreciation of the current exponential technological growth and innovation, who feels inspired to help accelerate SRF’s new technologies to make a big positive impact in the world.

We offer an excellent benefits package including paid vacation and sick leave, fully covered health and dental insurance (inclusive of dependents), an FSA program, and a company-matched 401(k) plan, all of which is offered after a 90-day introductory period. SRF is an equal opportunity employer. The job offer is for a full-time position. All local, national, and international candidates are welcome to apply.

The position is available now and will be filled as soon as the qualified candidate is found. Salary is commensurate with the job title and experience of the chosen applicant.

TO APPLY:

Interested candidates should apply by emailing a cover letter and resume to [email protected].

COVID-19 considerations:

All employees are to follow COVID restrictions, which will lighten as our workplace is vaccinated. All employees are expected to wear PPE. Vaccinating is strongly encouraged.

Executive Summary, Investigative Report

To Our SENS Research Foundation Community,

In June 2021, the SENS Research Foundation began an outside investigation into the conduct of our Co-Founder and then-Chief Science Officer Dr. Aubrey de Grey. We initially began the investigation after we learned of allegations of inappropriate conduct concerning Dr. de Grey from two members of the scientific community – allegations we took to heart as a person-centered nonprofit organization. The Foundation appointed an independent investigator, Sue Ann Van Dermyden of Van Dermyden Makus, to look into the allegations. Recently, Ms. Van Dermyden reported to the SENS Board of Directors on her findings.

In the spirit of transparency and accountability, we are making available an Executive Summary report of the investigation’s outcomes, prepared by Ms. Van Dermyden, that substantiates many of the concerns of boundary-crossing behavior initially raised by the complainants. You can access the report by visiting: https://www.sens.org/executive-summary-investigative-report/. Out of respect for the complainants, our investigator has refrained from including their identifiable information in this public-facing report.

Since we first announced the investigation, the scope of Ms. Van Dermyden’s work in this investigation had expanded. In August 2021, we learned of allegations that Dr. de Grey had attempted to exert influence over one of the complainants – an action that ultimately led to Dr. de Grey’s separation from SRF. You will find that Ms. Van Dermyden’s assessment affirms that Dr. de Grey improperly attempted to exert influence over one of his complainants. Also, as Ms. Van Dermyden notes in her report, her firm is continuing to look into allegations brought forward by other women, though it would be premature to speculate on the outcomes of that effort.

At SENS Research Foundation, we expect our colleagues to adhere to the highest levels of integrity, not only in carrying out the organization’s vitally important mission, but in how they conduct themselves in personal interactions as well. The behavior detailed within this report is simply unacceptable. On behalf of the SENS Research Foundation, we, the Foundation’s Directors, extend our heartfelt apologies to the individuals subjected to this behavior, as well as our gratitude for their bravery in coming forward.

We also want to extend our deep gratitude to the Foundation’s employees and partners, who have remained focused on our life-sustaining mission in spite of a recent, regrettable period of disruption and distraction. You are the Foundation’s lifeblood, and we are here to support you and amplify your work.

Success in the fight against aging demands collaboration and partnership. It demands integrity. It demands relationships rooted in mutual respect. As leaders in the field, we take seriously our responsibility to set a tone for the longevity industry. We hope this investigation demonstrates our deep commitment to these values.

Onward,
The SENS Research Foundation Board of Directors

To read the full Executive Summary of Investigative Findings, click this link.

To view the accompanying Exhibits to the Executive Summary, click this link.

Hyperbolic Hyperbaric “Age Reversal”

Lower-quality, clickbait-hungry media outlets love sensationalist claims, but one does expect better from the public relations department of an internationally-respected research university. And it was an easy jump from the already-overstated “In First, Aging Stopped in Humans” and “treatments can reverse two processes associated with aging and its illnesses” to saying that a treatment “can reverse aging process” — and to then land in a mud-pit of self-parody with “Human ageing reversed in ‘Holy Grail’ study, scientists say.”

The actual findings of a recent study on hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) were much more limited. Despite some intriguing indicators, the actual impact of HBOT on aging based on this study is entirely unclear, quite plausibly negligible, and in any case objectively less impressive than that of (say) regular exercise, which certainly does not “reverse aging.”

Originally developed to treat divers with decompression sickness or dangerous nitrogen bubbles in their blood after surfacing too quickly, HBOT involves administering 100% oxygen to subjects resting in a chamber where the atmospheric pressure is artificially elevated. This enhances the dissolution of oxygen directly into the plasma (normally, it’s almost entirely carried in the red blood cells), and the dissolved oxygen in turn drives out the nitrogen, while delivering more oxygen to the tissues. Later, it was found that repeatedly subjecting people or experimental animals to HBOT can cause an adaptive response that paradoxically resembles being subjected to inadequate oxygen (hypoxia) — a phenomenon referred to as the hyperoxic-hypoxic paradox.

Under the relatively loose 510(k) regulations for medical devices in the United States (standards that were modified over 2019-2020 to still-unclear effect), HBOT devices are also “cleared” (but not approved) for carbon monoxide poisoning and a surprising range of other indications, including treatment of chronic wounds and necrotizing soft tissue infections, burn or crush injuries, and unexplained sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Regulation of medical devices is similarly inadequate internationally. Some clinicians also administer HBOT to patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), although the evidence base for these uses is weak. Device manufacturers and clinics sometimes push the line even further, advertising their HBOT devices and services for yet more speculative indications, resulting in FDA warnings to consumers and the occasional reprimand to manufacturers, although enforcement is hampered by a trend in the courts to recognize broad commercial freedom of speech rights.

So what about HBOT for aging?

The Study Setup

The study recruited 35 independent-living men in good functional and cognitive condition (granted the effects of aging — they were age 64 and older, with some in their early 80s) and had them complete a baseline assessment. They lost five participants right there — a problem that gets compounded as the study goes along, as we’ll see. The remaining thirty subjects underwent 90-minute HBOT sessions five days a week over the course of three months, for a total of 60 sessions. Whole blood samples were taken at the beginning of the study, at the midway point, and after the last session, followed by one last blood test a week or two after their last HBOT session. When the samples were viable, scientists tested the lengths of the subjects’ blood cell telomeres (the now-famous “shoestring nibs” on the ends of our chromosomes that keep them from unravelling after multiple cell divisions), as well as looking for what they characterize as “senescent” T-cells. This is where the attrition problems started to get worse. After five of the initial recruits failed to complete their baseline survey, only 30 people remained to contribute samples — and of those, the researchers had to throw out four patients’ telomere analyses and ten patients’ “senescent” T-cell analyses, either because the samples contained too few cells to analyze, or because of lab technician errors. As such, the stated findings are based on very few data points indeed. And aside from reducing the statistical power to attribute (or not) any changes observed to random chance, counting only those data points may also have actively skewed the results. People who don’t complete a study or whose biological samples are not measurable could reflect real differences in the people who finish a trial versus those that began it: for instance, participants providing viable samples may have had unusually robust blood cells for their age, while those who completed baseline surveys may have been more conscientious (thus more inclined toward healthy lifestyle practices) than average. Because of this potential source of bias, the accepted way to analyze a human clinical study is a so-called intention-to-treat analysis (ITT), in which you use all of the data from all of the subjects whether they actually finished the study (or gave viable samples) or not. Instead, in this case, they just ignored all the people who didn’t complete their initial assessment (that actually is sometimes acceptable, even in ITT), and also performed their analyses only on the people whose samples were all viable. To put it in fewer words, the researchers only compared people who started to the same people if they finished. Yet those who finished are skewed away from the whole group of those who started the study in the first place. Moreover, with no control group of any kind, we don’t know what would have happened anyway to another group of similarly-situated people who spent time under a kind of “placebo HBOT,” such as subjecting them to only very mild increases in atmospheric pressure, breathing something closer to atmospheric air (as). So, all right: the meal comes with a cartoonishly-large pillar of salt on the side. But with all those caveats, what did they say they found? After completing the protocol plus a two-week recovery period, telomere lengths in viable samples across several populations of immune cells “increased significantly by over 20% following HBOT,” and “There was a significant decrease in the number of senescent T-helpers by -37.30%±33.04 post-HBOT (P<0.0001)” while “T-cytotoxic senescent cell percentages decreased significantly by -10.96%±12.59 (p=0.0004)”. Is that actually what they found? And suppose that they had shown that (and shown it convincingly): would that be enough to justify a claim of having “stopped” or even “reversed aging”?

Tee-Tottering Telomeres

Let’s first look at the reported change in telomere length. It’s true that, when you look at a large population of people, longer blood cell telomeres and slower blood cell telomere shortening tend to correlate with poorer health outcomes. But that doesn’t make blood cell telomere length even a good proxy for current biological age at the individual level — let alone a causal driver of aging..

First, although blood cell telomere lengths do overall shrink over the course of multi-year periods when you look at aggregated data from an entire population of people, individuals’ telomere lengths swing wildly up and down over the course of mere months — that is, over lengths of time that include the entire duration of the HBOT study. So testing individual subjects’ telomere lengths as a measure of their individual biological age, and then testing again just a couple of months later, guarantees results that are corrupted by lot of sheer noise — and remember, just 24 subjects even had results the lab could read in the first place.

In fact, up to a third of individuals tracked show stable or even increased telomere lengths in their blood cells when re-tested as much as a decade later, due to a mixture of what are presumed to be real changes and lab artifacts. Obviously, degenerative aging is not being arrested or even massively reversed in one person in three across the population every ten years: imagine what an exciting breakthrough it would be to make that happen! So we know from that alone that we can’t use individual people’s blood cell telomere lengths as reliable indicators of age-related change, even over the course of a ten-year period. We therefore can’t possibly take a similar claim for HBOT seriously if it’s based on the same measure taken from 24 people over the course of mere months.

Moreover, although blood cell telomere length does correlate with telomere length in some tissues, the correlation is pretty weak, ranging from explaining 2% of the variation in the testes to a maximum of 14% in one peripheral nerve — and it has no correlation at all to the telomere lengths of about one-third of our tissues! Whatever blood cell telomere length tells us about health, in other words, it’s a pretty lousy proxy for whatever role telomere length plays in aging across the body as a whole.

Worse: calendar age itself — the most important determinant of biological age, which is what advocates want to use blood cell telomere length to measure — explained just 3.3% of the person-to-person variability in telomere length when all tissues were taken into account, and such important contributors to accelerating aging such as body mass index (BMI, as a proxy for obesity) and smoking status explained less than 1% of variation. And African Americans’ telomere lengths are longer than those of Americans of European descent in in nearly all tissues — a result consistent with multiple previous studies looking at blood cell telomere lengths. Yet we know that African Americans suffer with a higher burden of age-related disease and shorter life expectancies than white or Asian Americans. If we’re looking for a measure of biological aging, it makes little sense to use a metric that bears so little relationship to key predictors of future ill-health and death.

The weakness of telomere length as a biomarker of aging becomes clearer when you compare it to more robust markers, such as epigenetic aging clocks or algorithmic scores calculated mostly from common blood blood-test markers. In a comparative study, eleven candidate biomarkers of aging were compared to see how closely they would reflect the impact of aging on a group of older people in the domains of physical functioning (measured on tests of things like balance, grip strength, and motor coordination), rate of cognitive decline, and subjective signs of aging such as having an “old” face. One of the composite scores and one of the early iterations of an epigenetic aging clock consistently correlated with these age-related outcomes (albeit quite modestly in both cases), but telomere length failed to correlate with any of them. Similarly, telomere length was not associated with current health status in a cohort of 50-something New Zealanders, as measured on the  SF-36 evaluation of health status.

And those first-generation epigenetic aging clocks are far inferior as predictors of future age-related morbidity and mortality than more recent iterations such as GrimAge and DNAm PhenoAge, as well as non-epigenetic biomarker composites such as the PhenoAge blood test composite score against which DNAmPhenoAge itself was trained up by machine learning. Indeed, a comparison study of aging Swedes found that eight out of nine different biological age scores predicted risk of death over the next twenty years beyond the predictive power of calendar age itself. Telomere length was the odd man out, being the only one that failed to add value to knowing a subject’s calendar age.

So that’s telomere length. What about the reduction in “senescent” T-cells?

There’s “Senescence” … and then there’s Senescence

Anyone who’s been following research on senescent cells and their roles in diseases of aging and age-related ill-health — and on the sweeping rejuvenation effects of triggering those cells to self-destruct with “senolytic” drugs — will be excited by the authors’ conclusion that their “study indicates that HBOT may induce significant senolytic effects” and “suggests a non-pharmacological method, clinically available with well-established safety profile, for senescent cells populations decrease.” But does the study actually support that claim?

The first thing to understand is that despite the fact that it’s standard terminology in the immunology world, “senescent” T-cells aren’t actually “senescent cells” in the sense usually used in the geroscience world. (And no, they aren’t anergic T-cells either, though the two do show some overlap). True senescent cells are in a state of total growth arrest, unable to make new copies of themselves due to an interlocking set of pathways of regulation. By contrast, “senescent” T-cells’ ability to proliferate is reduced, but still fundamentally intact. Additionally, the reasons for “senescent” T-cells’ short telomeres and reduced replicative ability are quite different from those of true senescent cells. T-cells are normally very “trigger-happy” with their telomere-lengthening telomerase enzyme (and possibly use another telomere-lengthening mechanism as well), which allows them to quickly replicate when they encounter a known target and flood the zone with new T-cells. “Senescent” T-cells’ telomere-lengthening activity is sluggish compared to normal T-cells because an energy-sensing pathway tunes down its access to the enzyme. By contrast, true senescent cells actively enforce a state of total growth arrest, using an interlocking set of cellular pathways that are just not active in normal cells, in order to prevent the replication of damaged, often cancer-prone cells.

In short, jumping from post-HBOT reductions in the number of these “senescent” T-cells to potential effects on classical senescent cells is really just a misunderstanding of what kinds of cells are involved in each case.

OK, you say, but still, these so-called senescent T-cells are bad, aren’t they? So getting rid of them must be good — right? Well, maybe (though no one has demonstrated that yet). But did HBOT actually get rid of them in the first place?

The first problem here is that we don’t even know for sure that the researchers were measuring “senescent” T-cells to begin with! T-cells are judged “senescent” based on blunted replicative ability, lack of the marker protein CD28 on their surface, and the abnormal presence of the marker CD57 — but the investigators here were only able to measure CD28, and therefore were judging T-cells “senescent” without actually using the full criteria to test for them. So whether there was even a change in “senescent” T-cells in the first place is quite uncertain. (The same goes, in fact, for natural killer (NK) cells, which are another kind of immune cells. Mature NK cells test negative for the marker CD3 but positive for the marker CD56 — but these investigators tested for cells positive for both markers! Maybe this was just a typo that got repeated throughout the manuscript, but as it stands, it can only further fuel uncertainty around the results as a whole).

Add to that the fact that a mere reduction in the numbers of measured cells doesn’t prove that HBOT destroyed them. Maybe HBOT somehow triggered this group of cells to adopt a different functional status. Or maybe the cells (or a subset of them) retreated back to their reservoirs in the lymph nodes, since the researchers were only sampling them in peripheral blood. Who knows?

What we certainly don’t know is that HBOT treatment destroyed these cells in substantial numbers — and again, even if it did, it would be unclear what the researchers had done, since they didn’t actually fully characterize these as “senescent” T-cells in the first place, and they got the result from just twenty samples (after throwing out ten unusable results) — all in a study with no control group.

“Aging Reversed”?

So in short, the actual details of the study show that even the narrow claims of the study abstract aren’t fully justified. It’s not clear that blood-cell telomeres were lengthened any more than they would have been without HBOT; it’s not clear that “senescent” T-cells were reduced in numbers, let alone actually destroyed; and if “senescent” T-cells had been destroyed, it would not demonstrate a senolytic effect of HBOT, because “those aren’t the ‘senescent’ cells you’re looking for.”

And even if the study had robustly demonstrated that every one of the points above really did occur, it would not constitute “reversing aging” — or even justify the more restrained claims that “blood cells actually grow younger as the treatments progress” or “that the aging process can in fact be reversed at the basic cellular-molecular level.”

Aging Reversed!

The mission of SENS Research Foundation is to accelerate the development of rejuvenation biotechnologies: new therapies that remove, repair, replace, and render harmless the real cellular and molecular damage of aging. Scientific studies have rigorously demonstrated that these proposed therapies can remove or repair members of the various categories of cellular and molecular aging damage in animal models — and in an increasing number of cases, in human clinical trials.

When we say that we aim to “reverse aging,” we actually mean reverse aging: not just that damaged cells and molecules will be removed and replaced, but that health and function will be restored — something the HBOT study did not even attempt to demonstrate. Bona fide rejuvenation can be seen (for example) in aging animals treated with senolytic drugs, and in humans with Parkinson’s disease given even the crude early forms of neuronal replacement therapy (and the first glimpses of its next generation).

Going forward, proof-of-concept studies at our Research Center and in expert labs funded by the Foundation will demonstrate more and more rejuvenation biotechnologies. The emerging rejuvenation biotechnology industry will continue to flourish, advance promising breakthroughs into human trials, and eventually license treatments for clinical use (first in the most at-risk, and increasingly in the otherwise-healthy aging). In a future we can see through a glass darkly, our vision will be revealed: a new humanity, open to an indefinite future free of the specter of decline. That day, we will see aging reversed.

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