Aubrey de Grey explains why the time is right to be extremely ambitious and audacious when it comes to longevity research.
August will see the second annual Longevity Summit take place in Dublin. Packed with keynote presentations by leading experts in the aging field, the summit will showcase some of the latest – and most exciting – research and innovations in the longevity space.
Longevity.Technology: One of the Longevity Summit‘s most-anticipated speakers is eminent gerontologist Dr Aubrey de Grey. Since the launch of the Longevity Escape Velocity Foundation, which Dr de Grey announced at Dublin last year, news on progress of its flagship research programme Robust Mouse Rejuvenation has been keenly awaited, as has further details on its research into transplants on demand.
Earlier this week, we caught up with Dr de Grey to find out more about the conference, its speakers and agenda, and today we dig into what he and LEV Foundation have been up to.
Aubrey de Grey on…
I’m really happy about how fast Robust Mouse Rejuvenation is coming along, and to have got this far, this fast is something I’m very proud of. And, honestly, I’ve taken some risks to achieve this progress.
The work that we’re doing at Ichor Life Sciences – this extremely ambitious and audacious combination lifespan study in mice – is something that the time is right for, and was not going to allow there to be any further delays on it! We’re getting to the point where things that actually demonstrate genuine rejuvenation – albeit, perhaps, modest – are out there. They have been demonstrated by very reputable and prestigious groups, been published in good journals, &c, so we know that we can, to a large extent, trust that data. This means we can do what I’ve been looking forward to doing – combine those things in a single study and see how much they synergize.
Any averagely-cautious person would have waited a good three or four months longer than I did, just in terms of design of the study, &c, so I took a few risks… but I got away with it!
It’s a gas to play it cool
Freezing donor organs that are awaiting transplants creates an enormous amount of damage – and that’s over-and-above any damage that might already exist, for example if the donor died of old age. We are hoping to reduce this damage, avoiding the ice crystals that cause the damage. Cryoprotectors can be toxic when used in the quantities needed for preservation, and the second problem is cracking, thermal stress – rather prejudicial to being transplanted into a person!
So, what do we do? Well, I know of exactly one potential technology that shows really big promise in this area – in fact, it shows insane promise. That’s the technology we’re supporting at Keinice; it’s called persufflation and it involves cooling organs, not by putting them, in fact, into low temperatures, but rather by pumping cold gas through the vasculature. This means that, rather than cooling the organ from the outside, you’re cooling throughout the organ all in one go, so it actually works better on larger organs with a low surface:area volume ratio, than it does on small organs – and that’s completely new. The cooling with this method is an order of magnitude higher that previously and it solves the toxicity problem and it solves the cracking problem.
Tanya Jones, who used to be my Chief Operating Officer at SENS Research Foundation, has been working on this for several years; it’s been rebooted with a new name and we have very high hopes for it. Tanya will be on stage at Dublin and both the scientific case and the business case for Keinice and its tech will be presented.