June 2014

June 2014

Help Us Meet Our Mid-Year Fundraising Goal


SENS Research Foundation would like to thank all of you for your ongoing support. Thanks to your generous donations of time, money, and encouragement, we have been able to continue advancing our work to cure – not just treat, but cure – the diseases of aging. We are accomplishing this goal in 2014 by:
  • Funding promising new research: SRF currently has 3 internal and 15 extramural research projects taking place at universities and research institutes around the world. In March 2014, SENS Research Foundation secured its highest-profile academic publication to date, with the publication by J. Biological Chemistry of a report of SRF-funded work at the University of Texas at Houston. In this study, Dr. Sudhir Paul and colleagues report the isolation of catabodies selective for the type of amyloid that underpins the number one cause of death in the oldest of the old - those who reach the age of 110. A catabody is an unusual type of antibody, on which Dr. Paul is the world leader; rather than just attaching to their target, they actually cut it up. By this means, we can destroy this amyloid and eliminate a major component of aging.
  • Building a strong, collaborative community: We are bringing together leading scientists, regulators, venture capitalists and the general public together at our upcoming Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference, August 21-23, 2014, at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara in Santa Clara CA (see article below).
However, in order to continue advancing the field of regenerative medicine, we need your help. Simply put, your funding will help us continue our research, support our interns and bring the community together. We've set a funding challenge to raise at least $250,000 between today and August 31, 2014
If you would like to help these programs continue to grow, please show your support by making your tax deductible donation today: http://www.sens.org/donate

REMINDER: Register Now for Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014


Where:  Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA

When:  August 21 – 23, 2014
To Register:  http://sens.org/rb2014

SENS Research Foundation invites everyone in our community to register and participate in RB2014, our first major conference set in the heart of Silicon Valley. Discounted Early Bird ticket rates apply until June 30, 2014, so if you are planning on attending, you can save by registering as soon as possible. 


We are also offering an additional 25% discount to our newsletter readers; enter code SENS25 to receive your discounted rate from now until June 30. Also be sure to book your hotel room at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara using this link to receive our special conference rate.


Our conference theme -- Emerging Regenerative Medicine Solutions for the Diseases of Aging -- reflects SRF's ongoing determination to not only develop these solutions in the laboratory but also to build the collaborations essential to the success of rejuvenation biotech becoming a new medical standard for age-related disease.


Sign up on our website to receive our new conference agenda brochure.


Help support SENS Research Foundation and our conference by becoming a sponsor today. Contact Jerri Barrett, VP of Outreach, jerri.barrett@sens.org.


REMINDER: Submit RB2014 Poster Abstracts By June 30


Students and researchers are invited to submit poster abstracts for the Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference Poster Session. Poster submissions will be evaluated by members of the SENS Research Foundation Team. Note that students submitting accepted posters will be given a 50% discount on the conference fee.


Click to download the Call For Posters flyer (we encourage you to print, post, and share!). Again, the deadline for poster abstract submissions is June 30, 2014.


Submit your abstract today:



Exclusive RB2014 Entertainment: Hal Sparks To Perform at RB2014

Hal Sparks, actor/comedian


SENS Research Foundation is pleased to announce that comedian Hal Sparks will perform at the Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference opening night event on August 21st at 8 p.m.  This exclusive performance is only open to RB2014 attendees.


Currently starring in the Disney XD show, LAB RATS, actor/comedian Hal Sparks began his professional career as a teenager in Chicago. As a member of the famed Second City Troupe, his quick wit and affable personality quickly gained him recognition and acclaim and he was named the “Funniest Teenager In Chicago” by the Chicago Sun Times. Sparks went on to host the Emmy Award- winning “Talk Soup” on E! Entertainment Television, winning rave reviews from fans and critics alike. He starred for five seasons on Showtime’s hit series “Queer As Folk” and appeared in the films “Extract,” “Spiderman 2” and “Dude, Where’s My Car?” 


Sparks recently starred in his own one hour Showtime comedy special, “Charmageddon,” which is now a best-selling DVD. He is a star commentator on VH1's popular “I Love the 80’s” series and can be hear every Wednesday on the nationally syndicated “Stephanie Miller Radio Show.” Hal is also a pop culture expert and regularly appears on such shows as "Joy Behar" and CNN's "Your Money." His numerous other television appearances include “The Tonight Show,” “Larry King Live,” “Charlie Rose,” “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “Jimmy Kimmel” and MTV. Register today!

SRF Education: 2014 Summer Scholars Program Is In Session


SENS Research Foundation is pleased to announce the start of the 2014 Summer Scholars Program. Fifteen students were selected to participate this year at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute / Harvard Medical School, University College London, the University of Oxford, the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and our very own SRF Research Center.
Over the next month, SRF will be posting profiles on the SRF Education blog for each of our summer scholars to give you the opportunity to learn more about each scholar and the research he or she will be conducting.
Christine Wu, SRF Summer Scholar
Meet our first summer scholar, Christine Wu. Christine is a student from the University of Pennsylvania who is working with Dr. Haroldo Silva at the SRF Research Center. She will be determining the impact of homologous recombination inhibitor drugs on the ALT cancer pathway. 
SRF's Thomas Hunt Awarded 2014 Thiel Foundation Fellowship
Founded by entrepreneur and long-time SRF supporter Peter Thiel, the Thiel Fellowship Program "...brings together some of the world’s most creative and motivated young people, and helps them bring their most ambitious ideas and projects to life."
SENS Research Foundation would like to congratulate Thomas Hunt, who has been awarded one of the 20 Thiel Fellowships granted in 2014. Thomas, 17, began volunteering in our Research Center three years ago and now works alongside our intramural team studying Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT), a mechanism that may play a key role in the development of cancer. He has a particular interest in automated high-throughput drug screening to find compounds that reduce ALT activity.
Thomas Hunt, 2014 Thiel Fellow
To learn more about the Thiel Fellowship program and view the full list of Fellowship recipients for this year, visit the official website here. You can also view Thomas's profile here, and read the article published about the program on Entrepreneur.com.


Question Of The Month #4: Can Medicine Take a Cue from 'Natural' Negligible Senescence?


Q: Amongst the "Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence" (SENS), have you considered the original negligibly-senescing organisms as sources for strategies? Organisms like bristlecone pine, lobsters, and the "immortal jellyfish" Turritopsis dohrnii seem to live indefinitely without suffering age-related ill-health or loss of function, so maybe we could learn their tricks and incorporate them into the human genome.


A: As beautifully illustrated in Rachel Sussman's recent book, The Oldest Living Things in the World, the example of these organisms is inspiring and imaginatively appealing. Among other things, they put the lie to the idea that degenerative aging is simply an ineluctable part of being alive, against which nothing can be done. Still, trying to adapt their specific metabolic and structural mechanisms to human use is not likely to help us achieve our goal of preventing and arresting age-related ill health.
While we don't yet know all the metabolic and molecular details, we do have a pretty good idea of why these organisms don't meaningfully age, and unfortunately those reasons aren't compatible with human biology. For instance, bristlecone pines can be said to "live" for thousands of years, but only the outermost layers of the tree are actually still alive: the wood in the middle of a tree is composed of dead 'husks' of cells. The tree is "alive" because the outer layers surrounding the "dead" inner core continues to carry out the business of life, performing photosynthesis and dividing, allowing the composite structure of the tree to keep growing. There is no plausible way to adapt this as a bulwark against the problems of human aging.
The situation is less extreme in the case of most negligibly-senescing animals — but still, it's difficult to see how their tricks could be applied to us without harm. Most such organisms never stop growing, allowing their continuously-dividing cells to literally dilute aging damage away. Rockfish and lobster, for instance, will continue to grow and grow as long as they are fed and not killed by causes unrelated to aging. Aside from the alarming or ridiculous vision of humans that continued to grow and grow year in and year out for centuries, a major problem with adopting this trick is that some of our most of our most important organs are composed of nondividing cells: heart, brain, and skeletal muscle. (That's why major mitochondrial mutations, for instance, build up in these organs and not (for instance) in the skin or liver). We're rather attached to having these cells stay in place and intact, especially when it comes to the way that our neurons arrange themselves; we wouldn't want to tamper with them by triggering them to begin dividing again.
The jellyfish  example is even less compatible with the human life cycle (and with our aims biomedically): their "immortality" comes from the fact that they aren't really even single organisms, but colonies of cooperating unicellular organisms that transiently adopt particular functions within the "meta-organism" of the polyp. The individual cells that comprise the polyp potentially divide indefinitely, and can differentiate and re-differentiate to adopt different functions. When a given polyp is irreversibly damaged, this flexibility allows its constituent cells to disperse, regroup, and create a new polyp, with each constituent of the old polyp transforming itself into a different kind of cell to perform a function that is needed by the newly-formed "daughter" polyp. It is not that these abilities allow T. dohrnii cells to indefinitely preserve the healthy function of a single, identifiable organism over time, in other words, but that it allows them to form new polyps when a given polyp-form can no longer be sustained.
These incompatibilities probably mean that the only way to take advantage of these tricks would be to engineer a completely new human-like organism, starting from the embryo and growing it out. Whether or not the life of such an organism is feasible or desirable, it isn't something that we can do to help humans that are alive today to avert a future of age-related disease and disability.
Instead of starting over from scratch and fundamentally reshaping our bodies and brains and way of being alive in the world, the strategy under pursuit by SENS Research Foundation is to repair and renew the bodies that we already have at the cellular and molecular level over time. Organisms that are naturally negligibly-senescent are able to dilute away the cellular and molecular damage that drives degenerative aging. By developing rejuvenation biotechnologies that remove, repair, replace, and render harmless this damage as it accumulates in our own cells and tissues, we can return our bodies to their youthful structural integrity. Through regular applications of this "cellular surgery," we cam restore the structural and functional youth of our bodies to a state of health, vigor, and vitality, keeping the degenerative aging process and its many diseases and disabilities at bay.

The "Question of the Month" column is your opportunity to submit your research-related queries to SRF's expert science writer Michael Rae. Please send your questions to foundation@sens.org and they may be featured in a future newsletter.




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