SENS: Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence
The SENS Research Foundation is the only nonprofit that emphasizes a regenerative medicine approach to diseases of aging. Its goal goes beyond slowing the aging process by developing rejuvenation biotechnologies that remove, repair, replace, or render harmless the cellular and molecular damage caused by aging. Normal health and function can be regained when tissue is restored. Aubrey de Grey, renowned biomedical gerontologist, is SENS Research Foundation’s Chief Science Officer.
The ultimate goal of SENS is to increase the healthspan – more time spent in good health enjoying a high quality of life rather than more time spent in illness and suffering from pain, disease, and dementia.
Negligible Senescence is a term coined by Dr. Caleb Finch and refers to a condition in which “senescence” (aging) is so small as to be negligible and inconsequential. Some animals like lobsters, hydra, and rockfish do not seem to age and are able maintain their physical capabilities over time. Their risk of death is relatively constant with aging in comparison to humans in which the risk of death ever increases as we age. SENS breaks aging down into seven classes of damage that characterize human/mammalian aging and provides an approach to deal with each one.
The seven classes of damage are:
- extracelluar junk (aggregates)
- intracelluar junk (aggregates)
- extracellular crosslinks
- cell loss and atrophy
- death resistant cells
- cancerous cells
- mitochondrial mutations
Is Immortality Possible?
Is immortality possible? Maybe. Maybe not. But, rather than addressing the aging process SENS is taking a backdoor approach to human immortality by focusing on therapies that can undo the results of the aging process.
Because the processes that cause aging will continue with the SENS approach it will be necessary for such rejuvenation therapies to be periodically repeated for good health to continue. In essence, SENS is betting that it will be easier to develop rejuvenation therapies than to address the fundamental processes of aging.
Costs of Rejuvenation Therapies
While the costs of rejuvenation therapies will undoubtedly be expensive SENS Research Foundation believes these costs will be less than therapies that simply treat age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, hip fractures, and others. Treating chronic diseases without addressing their root causes becomes cost prohibitive – but that has been conventional medicine’s approach.
Lifestyle and Aging
Food for thought!
Lifestyle is important in terms of reaching age 75. In fact, our genes only account for 25% of the chance of someone reaching the age of 75. But, genes play a bigger role getting past age 75 and beyond. In other words, lifestyle and environment greatly influence the mortality rate in younger people (less than 75). After age 75, though, the percentage of deaths related to the aging process increase, while the percentage related to lifestyle and environment decline. Some believe that after age 90 longevity is almost exclusively driven by genetics. So if the goal is to live beyond age 75 then regenerative approaches will need to be emphasized that can undo the aging process more than focusing on treatments that largely treat the symptoms of chronic disease.
And, that’s where SENS comes into play – getting past lifestyle and going beyond our genetic predispositions.