‘We need to cut through the noise in longevity’

Phaedon Institute aims to bring focus back on key areas within longevity – starting with cellular senescence.

A new longevity non-profit organization emerged from stealth today with the goal of enabling effective and sustainable growth in the longevity industry. The Phaedon Institute brings together top minds from across the field of aging science, promoting synergy, cooperation, and discussion to support the development of rigorous standards and guidance for the field.

The first area of focus for the new institute is the development of treatments that target cellular senescence (when cells stop dividing, produce pathogenic factors, and accumulate in the body as we age) – and it will host a senotherapeutics summit at the Buck Institute later this year.

Longevity.Technology: The Phaedon Institute says it aims to distill the science, support the leaders and talents, define the regulatory environment, and identify the investment opportunities to transform the aging and longevity industry. But it’s not the only non-profit with a longevity agenda, so how does the institute set itself apart? We caught up with Phaedon co-founder and president, Dr Marco Quarta to find out.

While Quarta acknowledges that there are other organizations looking to improve various aspects of longevity science and commercialization, he says one of the key differences in Phaedon’s approach is to move away from treating longevity as a monolith.

Dr Marco Quarta is founder and CEO of Rubedo Life Sciences

“In recent years, more and more has been added to this big melting pot of longevity science and therapeutics, and there is now a lot of background noise,” says Quarta. “Everything is mixed together, and it is becoming hard to follow what’s really happening and what’s relevant. There are many longevity events, for example, with people from many different fields talking, but, as a result, they end up going too wide and not deep enough.”

Shining a light on longevity science

Drawing its name from Greek words relating to “giving light”, Phaedon aims to change this by bringing the focus back to the wide range of scientific disciplines and approaches that comprise the longevity field.

“We want to create a forum to help the community within each scientific area to really advance progress – helping them coordinate and accelerate their efforts,” says Quarta.

In its first year, the institution will focus on senotherapeutics – an area where Quarta, the founder and CEO of senescence-targeting biotech Rubedo Life Sciences, believes there is “lots of confusion.”

“I believe that a few years ago, people actually had a better understanding of where the field of cellular senescence was – it’s much more confusing today,” he says. “Everyone is talking about senescence – what they think works and what doesn’t work – but too often it is not meaningful, accurate or up to date. There’s been too much dilution.”

Unifying the disciplines of longevity

Recognizing that longevity is an interdisciplinary field, Phaedon aims to create a forum that brings together all the stakeholders (academics, industry, government and investors) for each discipline within it.

“We want to give a clear and honest view of the state of cellular senescence science and senotherapeutics, and the same for epigenetic reprogramming and so on,” says Quarta. “Similar to the Gordon Research Conference style, we aim to bring together high profile, peer-reviewed people to discuss common themes: how to advance the field, how to do effective clinical trials, what are the biomarkers, and what are the recommendations to the public.”

“We then aim to publish this output in scientific journals, giving voice to proven stakeholders to help each community advance, being transparent and open to anyone who can contribute to support each area of the longevity field in a meaningful way.”

In addition to Quarta, the early members of the institute’s Scientific Advisory Board include some of the leading professors involved in the study of aging: UCLA’s Thomas Rando, Rochester’s Vera Gorbunova, Stanford’s Vittorio Sebastiano, the Buck Institute’s Eric Verdin, Björn Schumacher from the University of Cologne, Peter Adams from Sanford Burnham Prebys, and Marco Demaria from the University of Groningen, chairman of the board.

Producing longevity winners

The ultimate objective, says Quarta, is to help produce some “winners” – something that the growing longevity field needs to build momentum and increase confidence among global stakeholders, investors and the wider public.

“At the moment everyone is creating their own niches and that is a risk that can delay the field,” he adds. “We want to do the opposite – create more opportunities to connect and increase transparency. We want to share information better, build together a format that can be agreed with the regulatory agencies, and work on developing clear endpoints for trials targeting certain disease indications using certain therapeutics.”

“Yes, we’re all working on aging, but it’s also important that we differentiate, so we can really advance specific modalities and therapies to have an impact on the overall mission.”

READ MORE: Senotherapeutics summit set to pioneer advancements in longevity research