Altos rejuvenation research in mice signposts healthspan extension

Altos Co-founder and Chief Scientist Rick Klaunser teases Yamanaka factors success at Aspen Ideas Health Conference.

Altos Labs Co-founder and Chief Scientist Rick Klausner participated in a panel discussing efforts to increase human healthspan by combatting age-related diseases at this year’s Aspen Ideas Health conference.

In a panel that included Laura Deming and Kristen Fortney, Klausner discussed an Altos experiment in Spain (likely to be research conducted by Universidad Católica de Murcia and Altos Labs in collaboration with the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona), Klausner reported that if old kidneys are transplanted into young people they do not function nearly as well as transplanting young kidneys – but organ donations donors are getting older and older, and therein lies the rub.

“We’ve been doing these experiments with the transplant team at Barcelona where we remove a kidney from different animals, and now we’re preparing to do this in the clinic. You take an old kidney and you transplant it into a young rat versus [transplanting] a young kidney and you see a tremendous difference in overall survival and kidney function. But when we take the old rat organ and we introduce these components that rejuvenate, this reprogramming cocktail, just for 45 minutes they’re exposed to it and then they survive as well if not better than the young organs that are transplanted.

“So it may well be, with these types of creating cellular organs that people are doing, that we still want to make sure that we maintain the most healthy state of the cells, and I think one possibility of that will be reprogramming.”

Staying on the subject of mice, Klausner explained that all sorts of longevity research uses mice as an entry into into the clinic and researchers know how often that does not translate.

“There are many reasons for that – mice are different than humans, but another reason is that often when we do that [use mice] what we’re doing is building ‘a model of a human disease’ in a mouse that a mouse doesn’t actually get or doesn’t spontaneously get. But one of the interesting things about watching mice age, is how much, in many, many ways, it looks like human aging.”

Klausner described how the aging mice are not curious about their environment, suffer memory loss and weight loss and lose condition, but after treatment, the effect was such that the lab technicians assumed the old mice had been exchanged for younger ones.

“We can take those mice and with a single injection of this new approach to reprogramming built off the Yamanaka factors, and after a few weeks, seeing these mice is extraordinary. They gain weight, if you biopsy their skin, it looks like young skin.”

Klausner referenced childhood scarring in human infants. “When they cut themselves when they’re six months old, if you go back the next day it’s hard to find [the wound]. If I cut myself you can probably find it for the rest of my life – it’ll be a scar. It’s the same thing with mice; you do a punch biopsy and they scar, but in these mice that have been rejuvenated, they completely heal. They still die, even though we keep adding the rejuvenate, but they live about 25% longer. That’s really interesting – it looks like what we’re doing is creating healthspan. The average lifespan does go up, not dramatically, although 25% is pretty dramatic, I think, but no more than that.

“By the end of the summer we’ll know in about a thousand mice really in great detail why they die. That’s really an interesting thing – I mean, most most people die of disease, but there is this phenomenon that some people at the end of their lives just sort of stop and we don’t understand that and how that relates to all the other things we’ve been talking about doing.”

Andrew Steele commented on TwitterX: “We need to see the data rather than just an on-stage chat, but if this stands up it’s a pretty cool result.

“And a 1000-mouse trial is exactly what we need to see more of in longevity science – this is what a few billion in funding (which isn’t much in the wider economy) can do! [1]”

It is also interesting to note that when Klausner was asked about sarcopenia research, he said it was underappreciated for multiple reasons.

“There’s something really profoundly physiologically special about muscles – we see it when we take old animals and we can now reprogram to rejuvenate just the muscle fibers these animals are profoundly more healthy metabolically. In fact, it looks like they’ve been given GLP1s – they lose their fat and we’ve known for a long time that muscles release all sorts of interesting things called myokines and exokines, so it’s not just that muscle weakness which leads to frailty which leads to falls – it’s all really true, and it’s a it is a huge problem but I think we’re beginning to see this very special place muscles play in our overall health.”

The whole panel discussion can be viewed on YouTube.

[1] https://x.com/statto/status/1809142075926966719

Photograph: CreativeNature_nl/Envato