Dr Brian Kennedy explains why verifying longevity interventions work is key and why the transition to human trials is so important.
Brian Kennedy is one of the busiest people in the longevity business, with fingers in many of the most interesting antiaging pies. He was at the Longevity Investors Conference recently, discussing some of the latest discoveries in longevity research and giving a longevity industry overview.
Longevity.Technology: The Longevity Investors Conference (LIC) is the world’s leading and most private longevity-focused investors-only conference. Providing relevant insights into the fast-growing field of longevity, the conference also offers expert education and investment opportunities, as well as fostering excellent networking opportunities. It was our privilege to attend and talk to so many key opinion leaders – you can check out what Dr Kennedy had to say in our video below.
Brian Kennedy on…
At the National University of Singapore, we’ve set up a Centre for Healthy Longevity which is really targeted towards validating whether interventions work in humans or not. There’s a big preclinical component to that, because we want to verify that longevity interventions work in mice and other species like killifish. Once we have that data, we know then how to test it in humans, and so we’re starting intervention studies looking at biomarkers, both physiologic markers and molecular biomarkers, trying to figure out whether we can slow or reverse aging.
The goal is to be agnostic, so we can test many different types of interventions, and compare them to see which ones are working the best – and maybe eventually which combinations work the best.
TAME and time
I don’t think anyone knows how to do interventions in humans; everyone agrees we can’t just give drugs to people and see if they live longer fifty years later. But what do you do to measure aging? Something like the TAME study, like Nir Barzilai’s doing, which is looking at multi-disease prevention is a great idea – sort of a healthspan trial, but it’s also very expensive. We don’t know if metformin is the best drug or not, so while I’m very supportive of the trial, I think we need something where we can compare interventions with each other in a shorter term.
We’ve been trying to take biomarkers and use them as endpoints for interventions; I’m working with a company called PDL Health and we’re trying to figure out what the right inclusion criteria might be for a nine-month study to see if something reverses biomarkers and what we found was that the interventions worked very marginally in a super-healthy group of participants, but they worked very well in the few people that were in the normal range of aging, or aging poorly. We’re all learning and it’s very exciting.
At Singapore we’re very interested in rapamycin, either using rapamycin or an analog. I still think that’s the gold standard – it works in all the animal models, it’s insensitive to mouse strain, and the human data from RestorBio (which was based on a derivative) is actually pretty positive.
A future that’s safety first
We’ll be looking at something that’s upstream of NAD, we’re interested in molecules like spermidine and glycine – right now we’re mostly doing supplements, except for rapamycin, because we’re really focused on safety. I don’t know that supplements will give up the biggest impact in twenty years from now, maybe that will be cell replacement or gene therapy or rejuvenation, but right now we need to do things that are safe and incremental advances are so important. Effective interventions in humans are more compelling for both regulators and investors and although we still need animal studies, we need to make that transition to human trials.