Announcing the new Chairman of the SRF Board of Directors

SRF is pleased to announce that Bill Liao has been appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors.

He’s been serving as a Director and Board Secretary since the beginning of SRF. Bill Liao is a Chinese-Australian-Irish entrepreneur, investor, former diplomat, business mentor, author, passionate leader and speaker, with a distinguished record in business development and community activism. He is co-founder of the CoderDojo movement which teaches children worldwide how to code, and of Weforest, which has a stated goal of planting a hundred million trees around the equator. He has been a member of official delegations to the COP climate change summits. His career in tech and business encompasses two unicorn companies and launching the world’s first bio-tech accelerator. He has participated as an investor and volunteer for The Hunger Project in Uganda, New York, and Mexico. He is a general partner of SOSV, a venture capital fund of over $1B, and founder of the SOSV Momentum Pre-accelerator program. Bill’s current focus is Quantum Software.

Barbara Logan who is stepping down as Chair, has been serving as a Director since the founding days of the organization and we are profoundly grateful for her leadership, guidance and support during all these years, and recently through some of the most difficult times the organization had to face. She remains a Board member.

The members of our Board are dedicated and esteemed persons who bring extensive, diverse experience and commitment to guiding SRF.

We are excited to keep harnessing their knowledge and energy into furthering our mission.

A Message from the SRF Board of Directors

The offer of a Director position was refused by Dr. Aubrey de Grey, as stated in a public forum and taken as response in absence of other communication.

Invitation for Dr. De Grey and Richard Heart to join the Board of Directors

The SENS Research Foundation Board of Directors has a singular focus – to help the Foundation develop, promote, and ensure widespread access to therapies that cure and prevent the diseases and disabilities of aging. As the body responsible for ensuring the organization’s alignment with its mission, it is important our Board comprise leaders within the longevity field – visionaries dedicated to defeating the effects of aging permanently.

Many supporters have followed with interest our recent separation from our co-Founder Dr. Aubrey de Grey, and some have expressed concern regarding the possibility of our mission focus drifting off course. We remain firmly on-mission and continue to make real progress in our field, however, we acknowledge that we are the foundation we are today because of Dr. de Grey’s vision and leadership within the longevity movement. With this in mind, we have formally offered Dr. de Grey a Directorship within the Board of Directors.

His installment as a Director will be effective immediately upon the successful completion of the recommendations made by the accredited professional he has personally engaged, with a subsequent letter of recommendation to the Board of Directors supporting Dr. de Grey’s ability to fulfill the duties of Directorship. In this capacity, Dr. de Grey would lend his expertise to help steer the vision of the Foundation. Consistent with good governance and past practices, Dr. de Grey and the other members of the Board will approve the annual budget, review the annual audit, interview and hire executives, act as advocates for SRF, and largely ensure that the mission is being adhered to by the organization.

With an eye toward continued growth, we have also extended an invitation to Richard Heart to join the SRF Board. Richard is a passionate advocate within the longevity movement, a visionary in his own right, and the organizer of the largest fundraising campaign in SRF history. Both SRF and the longevity movement at large would benefit greatly from Richard joining our Board, and we are grateful for his sincere consideration.

We share these invitations with the public both in the interest of transparency and to be clear about the desired direction of our Board and, by extension, our continued growth in and service to the longevity field.

We will share more as we continue to plan for our future. Until then, thank you for your support of our important work.

The SENS Research Foundation Board of Directors

New Peer-Reviewed Paper from SENS Research Foundation Reports a Better Method to Study How Immune Cells Seek and Destroy Senescent Cells

Senolytics — drugs that selectively destroy senescent cells (senolytics) — have been shown to powerfully rejuvenate mice and to reverse multiple diseases of aging in animals, from atherosclerosis, to kidney disease, to osteoporosis, to Parkinson’s disease — and beyond. But because these drugs target pathways that are necessary for normal cell function, they can come with side-effects — the most notable being the crash in platelets (and resulting risk of fatal bleeds or strokes) that can accompany the experimental senolytic navitoclax.

But our bodies are actually equipped with an inborn army of immune cells that selectively identify and destroy senescent cells. To date, the most important of these “immunosenolytic” cells soldiers have seemed to be Natural Killer cells (NK cells) — though we will have an announcement to make on this front in the coming months. But if the body already has this defensive force, how do senescent cells still manage to accumulate in our tissues with age and wreak havoc on our health?

As part of SENS Research Foundation’s work to eradicate dysfunctional cells driving aging (ApoptoSENS), Dr. Amit Sharma and his team at SRF are developing ways to either rejuvenate our own NK cells’ ability to detect and destroy senescent cells in aging tissues, or to augment that capacity with NK cells engineered to be more lethal senescent cell hunters. To reach those goals, they realized they needed a more efficient way to enrich NK cells from mixed white blood cells isolated from human blood. In new peer-reviewed scientific paper, they show how they did it.

Their main innovation might seem to be an obvious one: to actually isolate NK cells and activate them to better mimic the situation in vivo. Previous studies have mostly used mixed populations of blood cells, sometimes removing T-cells or other specific cell types but never ensuring that they had isolated NK cells exclusively. Dr. Sharma used an existing kit to make sure that what they were seeing came from the NK cells and not from other cell types.

They also saw that the way that previous researchers had studied NK cells’ ability to destroy senescent cells was quite different from the conditions NK cells actually confront as they patrol for NK cells in the body, potentially leading scientists to chase after interventions that work well in a Petri dish but have no effect or are unsafe when carried out in living, breathing humans. This is probably because most scientists conducting these studies don’t have a specialized background in immunology: instead, they design their experiments based on a general background in the biology of aging or cancer biology, or as specialists in senescence per se, but

The biggest problem the SRF group corrected is that previous studies have cultured low numbers of senescent cells together with very high numbers of NK cells, creating a situation where NK cells are effectively shooting zombie fish in a barrel. Dr. Sharma’s team tested more realistic conditions in which one NK cell encounters one senescent cell, or no more than three, instead of ratios as high as one senescent cell target to 20 or even 80 NK cells.

Conversely, having given NK cells so many senescent cell targets that they can hardly fail to kill some, most previous studies have only set NK cells loose for a few hours, when NK cells have a half-life in the body of ten hours. So the ApoptoSENS team led by Dr. Sharma gave NK cells more time to engage their enemies, which better reflects how long they actually hang out in tissues, with experiments running from 16 hours to four days. This also gives the NK cells the ability to reveal their full range of powers, since some of their cell-killing weapons only engage over extended time periods.

Finally, previous studies on NK cells’ immune surveillance of senescent cells have cultured them in very high levels of interleukin-2 (IL-2), an immune-signaling molecule that triggers NK cells to create more of themselves and makes them more aggressive. At SRF, Dr. Sharma used levels that reflect levels in the body.

The first set of discoveries revealed by this new system: even when the ratio between NK and their potential targets is quite low, introducing more NK cells into the mix tends to kill more senescent cells, but at the expense of killing more and more healthy bystander cells.

All around, the new paper sets up the SRF ApoptoSENS team — and other scientists who can now read the findings for themselves — on a better path to identify ways to rejuvenate or reinforce senescent cell immune surveillance, reinvigorating NK cells to make them battle-ready once again.

Reference

Kim K, Admasu TD, Stolzing A, Sharma A. Enhanced co-culture and enrichment of human natural killer cells for the selective clearance of senescent cells. Aging (Albany NY). 2022 Mar 4;14(5):2131-2147. doi: 10.18632/aging.203931. Epub 2022 Mar 4. PMID: 35245208; PMCID: PMC8954966.

We are thrilled to announce the expansion of our Research Center

We are thrilled to announce the expansion of our Research Center to over 11,000 sq. feet with the addition of new lab and office space. This is more than doubling our current facility in Mountain View California that is home to SRF’s global operations. 

Thank you to all the donors who made this expansion possible. We are grateful beyond words for your ongoing support, as it has enabled us to rapidly expand not just our lab space, but our internal research programs, as well as the equipment and other resources needed to accelerate the defeat of age-related disease.

We will host a Grand Re-Opening early this summer to which everyone will be invited – watch your inbox and stay tuned for details.

Michael Rae and Dr. Robert Rodgers discuss Parkinson’s and aging

Parkinson’s disease, like all the so-called diseases of aging, is what happens when the particular metabolic demands on specific cell and tissue types inflict enough damage on themselves to render them unable to do their jobs. As more and more of those cells and tissues become dysfunctional over time, the functional reserve of those tissues is slowly drained, until core function can no longer be sustained and the symptoms of that widespread cellular and molecular injury erupt.

In this interview with the Parkinson’s Recovery radio program, SENS Research Foundation’s science writer Michael Rae discusses “The coming rejuvenation biotechnology revolution for Parkinson’s disease.” In it, they discussed how the cellular and molecular damage of aging most closely involved in Parkinson’s can be removed, replaced, or repaired using rejuvenation biotechnologies, and research underway to make it happen. Here is some of what they talked about.

New Cells for Old …

The most prominent kind of aging damage driving Parkinson’s is the loss of specialized neurons producing the molecular messenger dopamine in a defined area of the brain. Signaling from these neurons suppresses the unregulated firing of neurons controlling motion in the brain, so as these neurons are lost to aging and additional insults, the ability to suppress this unwanted firing declines. Eventually, this becomes manifest as the “motor symptoms” of Parkinson’s: the tremors of the hands, shaking of the head, and problems with walking balance.

The rejuvenation biotechnology solution to this problem is repleniSENS: replacing the lost dopamine-producing neurons with fresh young ones. Early human clinical trials using cells derived from aborted fetuses had mixed results, but a small percentage of the patients who received the cells experienced such spectacular results scientists spent the next several decades working out the cell types, transplant sites, and other details to optimize the procedure so that all people suffering PD  (and eventually, all of us) could benefit.

In addition to what we learned through the ensuing decades of painstaking progress, we now have Shinya Yamanaka’s Nobel-prizewinning biotechnological breakthrough: the ability to take common differentiated cells (such as deep-layer skin cells) and reprogram them into  induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), which have the full developmental potential of embryonic stem cells and can be nudged to become any cell type we like — including dopamine-producing neurons for cell replacement.  Today, BlueRock Therapeutics, a stem cell company now owned by Bayer (yes, the aspirin people) is running a clinical trial grafting replacement neurons into the brains of patients with PD. Unlike others, BlueRock is not starting the process off with a patient’s own cells, but is using healthy donor cells from the general public, from which it then uses proprietary bioprocessing to create stable master cell banks of what they call “universal iPSCs” that they have found to be compatible with any patient. It is these cells that are then turned into dopaminergic neurons for transplant into the brain of PD patients — or, in the future, heart muscle cells for people with heart failure, and other medical use-cases.

Other groups are taking the patient-identical route. These include Dr. Jun Takahashi of Kyoto University in Japan, whose small ongoing trial recruited just 7 subjects and administered cells to its first patient in November of 2018, and Aspen Biotechnologies, which is led by Dr. Jeanne Loring at the Scripps Institute, a good friend of SENS Research Foundation. Additionally, it was only just revealed last year that a dramatic self-funded experiment by a wealthy PD sufferer resulted in millions of his own reprogrammed cells being transplanted into his brain as early as September 2017. And we’re even still learning things about grafting fetal neurons, because of a revamped European trial with curtailed ambitions known as Transeuro.

… And Out with the Old!

Meanwhile, we’ve learned about the evidence supporting a causal role for senescent cells in PD — and the potential of apoptoSENS (destruction of dysfunctional cells) to help keep these “zombie” cells from destroying some of those dopamine-producing neurons in the first place. People with PD have more senescent cells in their brains than do aging people not diagnosed with a specific neurological disease — specifically, senescent astrocytes, which help maintain the integrity of the crucial barrier that protects the brain from toxins in the circulation, and that also act as a kind of support cell for the neurons, providing them with nutrients and maintaining the balance of ionic flows. Scientists led by Julie Anderson and Judith Campisi at the Buck institute showed in animal models and cell culture that when astrocytes turn senescent, betray the very neurons they exist to protect and support, killing them.

But purging senescent astrocytes from the brains of mice with a model of PD prevented the loss of dopamine-producing neurons and enabling the generation of new neurons to begin again. This meant that after senolytic treatment, the PD mice were still able to move like non-PD mice. With ongoing trials of senolytic drugs and a host of startups in the space, the potential to bring this experiment to life in aging humans is breathtaking.

The Roto-Rooter Route to Rejuvenation

They also talked about the many lysoSENS immunotherapies in clinical trials or in the pipeline to remove aggregated alpha-synuclein from aging neurons and prevent the “nonmotor symptoms” of PD, and the related role of “minor” mutations in a lysosomal enzyme that create a vicious circle with alpha-synuclein — and Aspen Biotechnology’s plans to eliminate the problem.

And much more! Hear the full audio here.

SENS Research Foundation & Underdog Pharmaceuticals jointly awarded $252,000 NIA research grant

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a grant to advance research on Engineered Cyclodextrins targeting toxic oxidized cholesterol to eradicate atherosclerosis — the cause of most heart attacks and strokes.

Former SRF V.P. of Research and current Underdog Co-founder Matthew O’Connor, Ph.D. and current SRF V.P. of Research Alexandra Stolzing, Ph.D., are the Principal Investigators.

Underdog Pharmaceuticals’ research has combined computational and synthetic chemistry programs to custom-engineer cyclodextrins to capture, and remove from cells, oxidized cholesterol derivatives such as 7-ketocholesterol.

Their technology removes the arterial plaque by clearing the non-degradable cholesterol that accumulates within cells in the arterial walls. The grant also supports exploring the use of Underdog’s technology to target oxidized cholesterol in the Alzheimer’s disease brain.

Their long-term goal is to deliver a simple and affordable preventive therapy for the world.

The novel therapeutic approach was born from one of SRF’s flagship research programs designed to understand and repair the underlying causes of cardiovascular disease. SENS Research Foundation and Underdog Pharmaceuticals are very proud to receive this important peer-reviewed NIH grant.

We are excited about how this collaboration will contribute to the advancement of our mission to develop, promote, and ensure widespread access to therapies that cure and prevent the diseases and disabilities of aging.

SRF’s researchers presenting our work at Indian biosciences conferences

Our VP of Research Dr. Alex Stolzing and Senescence Immunology Research Group Lead Dr. Amit Sharma will be presenting at conferences in India

Dr. Stolzing will be presenting a talk on “Aging Interventions – an update” at the 35th Annual Conference of Aging Interventions, organized by the Society of Neurochemistry, India (SNCI), running from December 2nd-4th, 2021.

Dr. Sharma will also presenting a talk titled “ ‘Engineering Natural Killer cells: Improving immune surveillance of senescent cells in aging and age-related diseases’” at the Conference. 

The conference will have attendees at University of Hyderabad, Gachibowli, as well as remote attendees via video conferencing.

Dr. Stolzing will also be a panelist at the Darwin International Conference, also hosted in India, and will be discussing: “Aging: a curable disease or an inevitable process?”. The Darwin International Conference is a virtual conference running from December 2-5, 2021.

British Daily Mirror featured an interview with SENS Research Foundation’s Science Writer Michael Rae about the world’s richest men taking on the longevity challenge

In the wake of the summer space race between Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, the world’s richest men are taking on a new challenge – immortality.

Amazon boss Bezos, 57, is one of the main backers of Altos Labs, which has raised £200million and just opened a new laboratory in Cambridge.

But Bezos, worth £150billion, is far from being the only one taking on the grim reaper.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin, 48, has invested more than £600million in a “longevity lab” called Calico.

Meanwhile Russian tech mogul Yuri Milner, 59 – worth around £3billion – has handed grants worth millions of pounds to the science of anti-ageing.

Longevity expert Michael Rae, 50, from California’s Bay Area, tells the Sunday People that the science of living forever is making huge leaps forward.

As well as being backed by Thiel, his SENS group has also had meetings with Bezos.

And with big-money backing, he is optimistic …

SENS Research Foundation, based in Mountain View, California, believes aging is a disease that can be tackled like any other.

Its goal is to “comprehensively repair the damage that builds up in our bodies over time.”

One research strand is asking if backup copies of cells [sic — mitochondrial DNA -SRF] can be created to replace malfunctioning ones.

The new cells [sic — mitochondrial DNA -SRF] would be implanted in our flesh so they can take over when our system starts to degrade.

This would mean we can refurbish our bodies time and again – like we replace faulty chips in a computer.

Michael Rae, 50, a science writer at the foundation, explains: “The Big Kahuna is when we get to the point that your life expectancy is no longer a function of your age.“

“Right now, every year you live, you’re closer to your doom. Once you take away ageing, it becomes open-ended. That doesn’t mean you’re immortal – you can still be murdered or hit by a catastrophic infection like Ebola, or die in a plane crash.“

“But you are no longer going to be more vulnerable to disease and death.“

“At that point, if you do the maths on how unlikely it is to die, it gives a life expectancy of about 1,000 years.

“You can still die the next day, or live to 2,000 years. It becomes about what happens in your life.” …

Longevity expert Michael Rae is hopeful that death from serious disease will plummet in the next decade as anti-ageing drugs currently in development hit the market.

He said: “One rejuvenation technology I suspect is going to be coming pretty quickly, in the next 10 years, is with drugs called senolytics.“

“There are certain cells that stop reproducing themselves and become metabolically abnormal.”

“They start excreting all kinds of inflammatory factors that make them more prone to becoming cancerous.“

“Senolytic drugs selectively kill those cells – there’s evidence that the body becomes rejuvenated in a wide variety of ways when you use them.“

“These drugs should be effective in eliminating a number of age-related diseases, which is a big step forward.“

“The immune system can already remove these damaged cells – but it seems it either falls apart as we age or it’s just incomplete.“

“We’re working on a range of ways to make it easier for your immune system to clear those cells out.“

“One thing we’re looking at to do this is by using engineered cells that will do the job for you.” …

He said: “The big concern I have about the research is that it’s not going fast enough because it’s not being funded adequately.“

“We’re not going half as fast as I’d like – every day that we’re delayed, we have another 110,000 people dead from this plague of ageing.“

“I watched my grandparents die. My grandfather was living on oxygen and had a hard time walking around by the time he passed.“

“My grandmother was almost blind and needed help getting out of bed.“

“I’ve done a variety of things to keep myself healthy, but I’m conscious the science is not developing as quickly as I would want.“

“Beyond that, yes there are concerns. If we unshackle people from the ageing process, the population is going to increase over time and that could pose certain ecological constraints.“

“It’s certainly going to pose a need for rethinking things like retirement ages and pension plans – and the way we structure our lives around ageing and dying.“

“But one has to maintain a sense of proportion. These things have technical fixes.“

“We have to be better about using resources on all kinds of fronts because the world is already headed for an environmental disaster.“

“Are we really saying the solution to things like our ecological problems is that people have to keep dying of cancer and heart attacks?”

Biological reprogramming technology

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is reported to be one of the main backers of Altos Labs, a collection of state-of-the-art research centres in Cambridge, Japan and California headed by US scientist and cancer expert Richard Klausner.

The scientists here are using £200million of funding to develop something known as “biological reprogramming technology”.

This will allow the cells in our body to be rejuvenated, turning back the clock and reversing the ageing process.

There is also hope that the research will bring an end to life-changing conditions such as Parkinson’s, heart disease and cancer – as our cells will no longer degenerate and mutate.

One new scientist on the team, Spaniard Manuel Serrano, says he was offered five times his salary to move to Cambridge to work for Altos Labs, showing the firm is recruiting the best and brightest in the business.

Expert Michael Rae told us: “Reprogramming technology is taking a cell that has accumulated age-related changes that are dysfunctional and winding the clock back.

“You remove some of those abnormal changes, so it behaves like a youthful cell.

“Once you’ve done that it starts ageing again. So eventually you will have to wind it back again and again – but that’s fine as long as you keep up with it.

“In some ways that is even more exciting because if you are 70 years old and you can wind the clock back, you’ve done a lot for that person.

“Bezos is in his 50s – so he has made a bet that’s going to pay out at a very good time for him.”

Read full article HERE.

Longevity Science Foundation’s $1 billion, 10 year distribution shows shift in attitudes since SRF inception

SRF is elated at the announcement in Longevity Technology of a fund that will distribute more than $1 billion over a ten year period specifically “to research, institutions and projects advancing healthy human longevity and extending the healthy human lifespan to more than 120 years.”

Few may remember the environment in which SRF began, in which interest in longevity research and significant extension of human life was far outside the mainstream and inordinately difficult to raise funds for. Along with the recent founding of Altos labs, the Longevity Science Foundation’s extraordinary commitment heralds a hard-fought shift in attitudes towards fighting aging.

The Foundation will be advised by a “‘Visionary Board’ of leading longevity researchers, led by Evelyne Bischof and joined by Andrea B Maier, Eric Verdin, Matt Kaeberlein and Alex Zhavoronkov…”

According to Longevity Technology, “The focus of the Foundation will be to . . . . support projects in four major areas of healthy longevity medicine and tech – therapeutics, personalised medicine, AI and predictive diagnostics . . . . that can make a significant difference in people’s lives as soon as possible – even within five years.” The Foundation will also focus on “…driving longevity medicine from theoretical concepts to real-world applications…” that can be transformed into clinical treatments. Translational medicine has been hindered by a lack of sufficient funding, where the promises of revolutionary therapies remain locked away from discovery.

Visionary Board member Andrea B Maier also serves as co-director of the Centre for Healthy Longevity at the National University of Singapore, and predicts “In 5 years, healthy longevity will not only exist as a lab-proven concept, but will become part of everyone’s life.

The article also reports that “the Foundation will also empower people from all over the world to directly support the development of longevity research . . . and share findings with the public to enhance awareness of longevity care and available treatments.”

SENS Research Foundation looks forward to seeing this sector grow rapidly over the near future with evermore mainstream acceptance, and more resources like the Longevity Science Foundation’s offer the hope of ending aging in our lifetimes.

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