General FAQ

 
I want to support SRF’s work! What can I do?
 
Thank you for asking! We have a page dedicated to just that question here. You can also click here to donate.
 
How does SENS Research Foundation use its donations?
 
We are managed by an impartial Board of Directors, our finances are audited as a 501(c)(3) public charity, we maintain a competitive indirect rate even though we are a young charity, and we maintain a focus on the efficient use of every dollar received. Regardless of whether you can afford to give $1,000,000, $100, or $10, your contribution helps make possible:
 
- Intramural research at our California headquarters
- Extramural research at prestigious universities and other state-of-the-art laboratory facilities throughout the world
- Grants and summer internships for students (via our student program, SRF Education)
- Educational and informational resource development
- Conferences and special events relevant to rejuvenation biotech
 
For a detailed breakdown of our expenses, please see our organizational reports.
 
Why is it so important to support SENS Research Foundation?
 
In short, because all over the world, people and societies are grappling with the diseases and disabilities of aging. The amount of time, money, and energy already being poured into attempts to thwart diseases like Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes is tremendous. Unfortunately, despite progress in treating the symptoms of these diseases, not a single one of them has yet been cured.
 
SENS Research Foundation aims to change the way the world researches and treats age-related disease. We believe it will take a charity to spark a revolution in medical research paradigms and create the initial energy for a true rejuvenation biotechnology industry to develop. We are the only non-profit currently prioritizing a regenerative medicine approach to the diseases of aging, and only with your support can we continue to push the frontiers of medicine along this critical but neglected path.
 
How can my support make a positive difference?
 
Your support will allow us to maintain existing research programs, establish new projects, publish and promote our successes, prepare the next generation of scientists through our student initiatives, improve infrastructure and access to state-of-the-art equipment, and as a result of all this permit faster achievement of useful results. Which in turn means a greater chance for better medicine to be available to more people sooner. Large donations of course make it possible to make the most dramatic and rapid improvements to our programs and infrastructure, but don’t feel like you have to be a multi-millionaire for your contribution to matter. A strong grassroots support base that broadens our outreach capabilities, supplements larger donors, and helps us maintain our public charity status has always been important to our success and will continue to be going forward.
 
What does “SENS” stand for? 
 
SENS is an acronym that stands for Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence. It is the formal name for the way SENS Research Foundation develops therapies for the diseases and disabilities of aging.
 
Negligible Senescence is a term originally coined by Dr. Caleb Finch of the University of Southern California. It refers essentially to a condition in which senescence (the progressive slide into sickness and frailty with age) is negligible -- that is, so small as to not merit consideration. He used this phrase to describe animals like the rockfish, lobster, and hydra, which simply do not seem to senesce. No matter how long these creatures are studied, they seem to have the same physical capacities. Moreover, their risk of death remains constant, rather than progressively increasing as a result of age-related pathologies – because those pathologies simply do not develop.
 
Humans, meanwhile, do not naturally possess "negligible senescence”, and our bodies are so differently configured from those of the rockfish, lobster, and hydra that there is no feasible way to “transfer” this property between species. Our mission to develop rejuvenation biotechnologies is based on the notion that it may be possible to apply the principles of regenerative medicine to the cellular and molecular damage of aging. In short, we think it ought to be possible to engineer solutions to age-related disease that stave off pathology indefinitely – such that, like the rockfish, lobster, and hydra – we are able to get old without becoming sick or frail. 
 
Finally, we emphasize that our approach is a strategy, not a fixed and final platform of new medicines. We work today to catalyze the development of a panel of rejuvenation biotechnologies, each of which addresses one of the known forms of aging damage. But that panel is only a provisional iteration of the damage-repair strategy, and could well change in the future in light of new information, the discovery of superior methods, etc.
 
The Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, then, amount to a flexible way of approaching the development and continuous improvement of rejuvenation biotechnologies, to combat age-related disease and frailty however it may manifest itself now and tomorrow.
 
What exactly are “rejuvenation biotechnologies”?
 
Rejuvenation biotechnology is a new platform of biomedicines that apply the principles of regenerative medicine to the structure of the body at all levels: from organs and tissues, to cells, all the way down to the molecular structures within and surrounding them.
 
When applied as specific therapies, rejuvenation biotechnologies directly remove, repair, replace, or render harmless the cellular and molecular damage caused by the biological aging process. It is the accumulation of this damage that drives the progressive rise in frailty, disease, and disability that people now suffer with age. By removing, repairing, and replacing the damaged components that have accumulated in a person’s tissues over time, the normal, robust structure of the tissue can be restored – and with it, health and functionality.
 
Mind you, a single round of treatment with rejuvenation biotechnologies will not provide a once-and-for-all fix for aging damage. The metabolic processes that cause aging damage will continue to inflict imperceptible injury to our tissues every day. This means that, like regular scheduled auto maintenance (and dental cleanings, for that matter), rejuvenation therapies will need to be periodically repeated to maintain a tissue’s restored functionality. In other words, by occasionally stepping in to remove and repair the tissue again, we can keep the total burden of damage at levels low enough to prevent the development of age-related tissue dysfunction, frailty, and disease.
 
For some details on the foreseeable platform of rejuvenation biotechnologies whose development SENS Research Foundation is working to catalyze, see our research pages, and most specifically our introduction to SENS research. For a more in-depth account, see the book-length treatment, Ending Aging.
 
Medicine does not yet exist to treat aging effectively, but that does not mean that no such medicines can exist. It simply means that we have to find new ways to tackle the problem. We believe that rejuvenation biotechnologies will offer that new way.
 
I’ve seen a lot of books and articles about “slowing down the aging process”. Is that what SRF is trying to do?
 
Not exactly. Most of the time, you will notice, when people refer to “slowing down” aging, they are suggesting a scenario in which necessary bodily processes (e.g., metabolism) are tinkered with, whether through dietary, medical, or some other means. SRF’s position is that actually reversing the negative effects of aging will ultimately be far more feasible to implement than “slowing down” the rate at which damage occurs.
 
In other words, our approach does not seek to alter the multiple processes that cause age-related degeneration. Given our current level of understanding of these processes, and given their inherent complexity, we cannot reasonably expect to come up with therapies that safely and effectively slow those processes down.
 
Rather, we are working to repair the result of those processes, sidestepping the daunting complexity of the process itself. However the damage of aging is caused, the same therapies can remove that damage – and the risk of harming a tissue by removing damaged components is inherently low. We believe that this approach to problem of age-related degeneration can deliver more effective therapies more safely and more rapidly than approaches that only slow it down.
 
How can we afford to provide widespread access to rejuvenation biotechnologies?
 
The cost of widespread access to rejuvenation biotechnologies has to be compared with the existing costs of treating people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, hip fractures, and other age-related conditions. These existing costs are extremely high, and are currently on a path to accelerate dramatically as the first “baby boom” cohorts of the developed world enter their seventh decade, and are then followed by the equivalent cohorts in developing nations. As with any new medical tool, access to rejuvenation biotechnologies will indeed be expensive, but ultimately they will actually save money as compared with the default scenario of “aging as usual,” particularly as rejuvenation biotechnologies mature.
 
Could SENS-type therapies just end up adding more years of sickness, frailty, and pain to people’s lives?
 
No. Rejuvenation biotechnologies by definition would work by restoring healthy structure and function to the body.
 
Clearly, the degenerative aging process causes a great deal of suffering within the scope of the lives we live now, and clearly we are not alone in making this observation; otherwise the entire field of geriatric medicine would not exist.
 
Therefore, even when discussing longevity as an incidental effect of SENS-type treatments, it should go without saying that our priority, and the true triumph of rejuvenation biotech, will be that of increasing the human healthspan – i.e., the proportion of life spent feeling and functioning well, as opposed to the proportion spent struggling to endure pain, disease, dementia, and so on.
 
How soon might we actually see a comprehensive suite of solutions to age-related disease?
 
As with any research-and-development endeavor, the achievement of the end goal depends on just how fast the required biomedical technologies arrive -- which in turn depends on just how much we collectively and individually invest into advancing the underlying science.
 
Aren’t there more immediate medical concerns, like transmissible disease in the developing world?
 
It is hard to imagine any mission against disease as standing alone in a complex world. These other medical concerns are important, and there is much invaluable work being done to address them. However, the diseases of aging cause real suffering around the globe today, and will do so ever more in a world that is growing older, and as the work to prevent and cure infectious disease gains traction (so that more people in developing countries survive to ages where the diseases and disabilities of aging become manifest). This is particularly the case in the timeframes that will be required to develop rejuvenation technologies.
 
I want to stave off aging now. What diet, lifestyle, and supplement program would you recommend?
 
Unfortunately, we cannot make those sorts of recommendations for the simple reason that (despite marketing claims to the contrary), no currently-available medical intervention or lifestyle choice has been shown to affect the basic human aging process. The age-related rise in frailty and illness is the end result of basic metabolic processes that aren’t appreciably altered by environmental influences. While genes only account for only about 25% of your chances of reaching an age of about 75, they play a very large role in your odds of becoming a centenarian once you have already lived that long. Lifestyle and environment are major influences on mortality rate in younger people, but after about age 75 the percentage of deaths directly attributable to basic aging processes rises, while the influence of environmental factors declines.
 
That doesn’t mean that taking care of yourself is worthless. Eating well and exercising will greatly reduce your odds of prematurely suffering from many age-associated disabilities and diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers). Lifestyle factors are major predictors of your odds of reaching what was once “old age” – 75 years or so – but which is now actually below the average life expectancy in advanced economies. In a sense, living a healthy lifestyle has less to do with aging and more to do with avoiding killing yourself early by treating your body badly.
 
The Foundation itself retains a sharp focus on its mission to advance rejuvenation biotechnologies and true damage repair. We are working to develop and ensure widespread access to these new medicines, but they don’t exist right now, and it will be some time before they are available. That’s one reason why we’re working so hard to catalyze the application of regenerative medicine to the diseases and disabilities of aging.