Life Bio CSO Sharon Rosenzweig-Lipson reflects on Healthy Aging Month, longevity education and the rapid evolution of the geroscience space.
Last month was Healthy Aging Month, as it is every September. Dedicated to promoting the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people as they age, Healthy Aging Month serves as a reminder that while research is ongoing to slow aging, the process, in the meantime, can be a fulfilling and enriching experience when individuals prioritize their health and make positive lifestyle choices. The campaign also emphasizes the importance of preventive measures, healthy habits and a proactive approach to maintaining overall wellness in later years.
Longevity.Technology: Healthy Aging Month sees various organizations and healthcare providers offer a wide range of activities and resources to support people in their journey towards a healthier and more fulfilling life. One company seeking to redefine aging is Life Biosciences, so we down with Sharon Rosenzweig-Lipson, PhD, its Chief Scientific Officer to find out more about why she feels Healthy Aging Month – and the activities and education it promotes – is so important.
Understanding what aging is and how it acts on the body is a key message that Healthy Aging Month can promulgate says Rosenzweig-Lipson.
“Through scientific exploration and research, we now know that aging is not just a result of random deterioration of our bodies; instead, there are several biological changes that make our bodies more susceptible to disease or injury, and we can target those with therapeutic interventions,” she explains, pointing out that these biological changes would occur even in someone with a healthy lifestyle.
The broader public and the scientific community alike can work together to recognize the need for therapeutics that treat the biological aspects of aging, in addition to promoting healthy lifestyles. This speaks to Life Biosciences’ mission, says Rosenzweig-Lipson, which is focused on treating diseases of aging by treating the biology of aging.
“The goal is to bring cells to a more youthful state to improve quality of life as we age.”
Although Healthy Aging Month aims to raise awareness and promote healthy aging practices, there are concerns that advancements in longevity science and treatments might not be equally accessible to all. Rosenzweig-Lipson says that Life Biosciences is keen to play a part in ensuring that the benefits of scientific research in aging and longevity are available to a wider and more diverse population.
“The way we are going about developing new treatments targeting aging biology at Life Bio is not unlike any other area of drug development today when it comes to the opportunities and challenges of making new medicines accessible to a broad and diverse global population,” she explains. “As medicine advances from its past of merely treating the symptoms, to now treating – or even curing – the underlying disease, health equity becomes an even more pressing issue. It’s important that the biopharmaceutical industry works alongside policymakers, insurers, and other stakeholders across the greater global healthcare ecosystem to put systems in place that ensure access to new treatments for all those who would stand to benefit from them.”
Rosenzweig-Lipson adds that an important step in democratizing medicine is through access to education.
“In that way, Healthy Aging Month is an important initiative to educate the public on the latest research and medical advancements when it comes to the science of healthy aging, so more people have the knowledge they need to make important decisions about their health,” she explains. “In a sector like aging and longevity, it’s also increasingly important for scientists to educate people to separate the science from the science fiction when making informed decisions.”
Life Biosciences is one of the companies at the forefront of longevity research, and it it focused on – and at the forefront of in drug development – the area of cellular rejuvenation, an approach that, explains Rosenzweig-Lipson, has the potential to address many diseases of aging by reversing the biology of aging and restoring cells to a more youthful state.
“This year Life Bio and our collaborators were the first in the field to show cellular rejuvenation can restore visual function in a non-human primate model in the retinal ganglion cells of the eye, where degeneration is common in older adults,” she explains. “Previously the work in the field had only been validated in mouse models.”
With this significant validation of our platform in hand, Life Bio is now rapidly advancing towards the clinic with its lead candidate, a gene therapy called OSK, in two optic neuropathies: glaucoma, a common condition where significant unmet needs remain, and a rare eye disease of aging called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) for which no drug is currently available.
Life Bio hopes to be in the clinic with these lead indications in 2025, which would represent, says Rosenzweig-Lipson “a monumental step forward for the field of cellular rejuvenation”.
“Beyond the eye, we are evaluating the potential for cellular rejuvenation to treat a broad number of diseases of aging, with compelling preclinical data in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia, as well as other ophthalmic disorders including dry age-related macular degeneration, and other forms of retinal degeneration,” she adds.
One reason Healthy Aging Month is an important and regular event is because the field of healthy aging and longevity is rapidly evolving, and Rosenzweig-Lipson predicts that pace and momentum will only increase over the next decade.
“We know more about the biology of aging than ever before,” she says. “We’re now at a point where we’re going to start seeing the scientific breakthroughs we’ve made in the lab in areas like cellular rejuvenation translate into breakthroughs in human medicine through the work of Life Bio and others in the biotechnology sector.”
Rosenzweig-Lipson believes the biggest impact this will have on human health is the extension of healthspan – the number of healthy years of our lives.
“We know that the progressive deterioration of our health as we age has significant impact not only on our livelihood but places a large burden on society for the care and support of the aging population. I’m most excited by advancements like cellular rejuvenation that promise to extend healthspan.”