Aubrey discusses SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) anti aging projects. There are three direct projects and several projects supported at universities.
1. There is work to make mitochondrial mutations harmless by placing the mitochondrial DNA into the cell nucleus (this ensures the necessary mitochondrial functions continue even if the mitochondria are damaged.)
2. They have identified enzymes that can break down the extra cellular junk that causes cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. They are placing them into mammalian cells and published the work in 2012.
3. They are working on telomeres. Alternative lengthening of telomeres is used in ten percent of cancers.
Work with Plenty of other sources of funding
RepliSENS is to replace loss of cells. This would help for Parkisons disease and spinal cord damage. There is work on stem cells and there are some clinical trials now. Some trials are working and it appears to be a matter of time before it works spectacularly well on a reliable basis. There is many companies and researchers working on stem cells so SENS does not need to address it.
The extracellular garbage in the brain are being addressed. SENS is funding a project for addressing extracellular garbage in other parts of the body.
Divide and Conquer Approach
SENS targets seven areas of aging damage. SENS approach is to target each of the seven pieces but there should not be any expectation of significant life extension until all seven areas are being addressed quite well. There are other simpler approaches which are showing some benefit (rapamycin and calorie restriction.) Each of the seven strands of SENS work (other than mitochondrial mutations) has a disease or diseases associated with that area. This means that the work in that area can be justified as addressing those diseases for regulatory approval.
Chances for significant life extension over the next ten to 20 years are quite low according to Aubrey. The 2 year per decade increase of life expectancy sources (reduced smoking and improved infant health) are running down. When regenerative medicine gets more mature and capable then this trend will reverse and life extension will accelerate again.