The SENS Research Foundation on the thrill of research and the importance of nurturing longevity start-ups.
The SENS Research Foundation (SRF) is a non-profit organisation on a mission to transform the way the world researches and treats age-related disease. Focusing on a damage repair paradigm for treating the diseases of aging, SRF promotes and supports scientific research, advocacy and education, training researchers to support a growing regenerative medicine field. By supporting research projects at universities and institutes around the world, SRF hopes to realise its goal of curing such age-related diseases as macular degeneration, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
As well as its research focus, SRF also educates, informing the wider public about how to tackle the economic and political issues that stem from an aging world population through its advocacy campaigns and educational programmes.
Longevity.Technology: From significant fundraising to digital bioart NFTs, 2022 was a busy year for SRF – and there is lots planned for 2023 as well. We caught up with Lisa Fabiny Kiser, CEO, and Dr Ravi Jain, Vice President of Research, to reflect on the last year and look forward to SRF’s plans for this one.
The SRF team on…
A damage repair mission
The SENS paradigm is about damage repair and that aging is accumulation of damage over time, that naturally occurs, but that creates pathologies when it goes on too long or accrue too much. There are seven types of damage that accrue that need to be addressed in order to really ameliorate aging entirely as a disease.
While there are seven strands, they are all important to address, because if you don’t address all them, you are not really going to impact aging – you might impact one aspect of aging, but it’s not enough. SENS tries to bring a multifactorial approach to these issues, funding research in all of these areas to create a cumulative effect on aging itself.
We are looking for real therapies that will go through the FDA to make sure we are getting real medical treatments on the market for everybody. We want to make sure that everybody has access to these therapies and that all of our therapies address a damage of aging.
Discovery and development platforms
These platforms are the trend at the moment, and they really look like a flat, flywheel sort of approach where you have a technology that can be reused over and over, finding therapies, small molecules or compounds for a number of different diseases. We use a synergistic approach, bringing a whole suite of technologies to bear on a problem, so we can produce a number of candidate compounds or therapeutic pathways.
We look at platforms as an over-arching approach, and when we market that, we have a replicable approach across a number of diseases.
Bringing the oomph
One of our biggest concerns is making sure start-up companies have as much oomph as possible behind them to get off the ground, to get into clinic, to get on the market. We often rent out space in our labs to these small companies at cost, to really allow them to put their focus where it should be – on the research.
This has really been our strategy all along – do the research, do some of the translatable research, and when it gets to a certain point, we either spin it out ourselves, or help other people spin it out in a way that makes sense, that allows them the most resources possible to get into clinic and get into market.
Excitement for 2023
What doesn’t excite us – almost nothing! Some of our research programmes are so on the cusp of being ready to be pushed out and that’s a thrill. We are moving into the commercialisation platforms which means in a number of years there will be therapies that can help people all across the world, helping extend healthspan. This includes projects under the mitochondrial research umbrella and the senescent cell research umbrella – that we have that diversity in-house is quite fantastic, and being able to push that out and not just be a one-trick pony is quite a thrill!