I’ve been avidly following the SENS Research Foundation, one of the world’s leading non-profit research centres working toward a cure for aging, since its founding in 2009. Venture capitalist Peter Thiel has been one of their main sources of funding, enabling them to run on a budget of about $4 million/year, but I’ve pitched in over $500/year for the past few years. I also sent them flowers. Lately the SENS Foundation dipped their toes into crowdfunding, which is pretty cool. It’s a good way to convey to their donors what, concretely, their money is being spent on. I figure this is right up the alley of all you biology nerds here.
(I have no idea why the production values of this video are so low for Aubrey de Grey’s segments— did he have to film it in a hotel room or something?)
[quote]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.[/quote]
Read more about the project on lifespan.io.