Posted on 12 May 2016
The crowdfunding campaign for The Major Mouse Testing Program is now up! MMTP is a consortium of scientists and activists that plan to conduct many lifespan studies in mice with various interventions. Their first project is all about senolytics – removing old cells
Senescent cells are cells that have permanently stopped dividing and have an abnormal behavior (such as secreting various pro-inflammatory molecules). Senescent cells have been recognized as one of the ‘Hallmarks of Aging’. This is based on the fact that they have been found to accumulate with the age and because clear evidence exists for a pathological role of these senescent cells.
In 2011 a seminal paper showed that eliminating senescent cells from progeroid mice extended their lifespan and protected the mice from several age-related phenotypes. These mice had an improvement in muscle function and were protected against the development of cataracts. Earlier this year the same group published the results from the elimination of senescent cells in two strains of normal mice. The elimination of senescent cells in normal mice lead to an extension of mean lifespan (between 17 and 35%) and protected the mice from several age-related phenotypes (read our news story here).
However in both of these studies, senescent cells were destroyed by a genetic construct that was engineered in all cells and caused them to commit suicide upon becoming senescent. Translating this to humans would be difficult and potentially dangerous as it requires genetic modification. However, in recent years several studies have demonstrated the potential of several drugs to cause the elimination of senescent cells. These studies have demonstrated various health benefits in mice treated with senolytic drugs but have so far not investigated the effect of these drugs on lifespan.
An interview with Dr. Brian Kennedy, president and CEO of The Buck Institute, discussing senolytics:
Speeding up research
The Major Mouse Testing Program (MMTP) is planning a lifespan test with senolytic drugs. These are a new class of drugs that can induce death of senescent but not normal cells. The group plans to test three senolytic drugs (Dasatinib, Venetoclax, and Quercetin) in naturally aged mice (16-18 months old, equivalent to +/-60-years in humans). Dasatinib and Venetoclax are already approved drugs for treatment of cancer and Quercetin is freely available as a food supplement.
To be able to conduct this research, the group needs to raise $60,000. This money will be used to pay for the senolytic drugs, mice, analysis, food and housing costs. To achieve this goal they have released their crowdfunding campaign on the Lifespan.io platform. Lifespan.io is a new crowdfunding platform created specially to help research projects on aging. The SENS Foundation has already successfully raised $46,000 to fund mitoSENS research using this platform.
Please consider donating some money to this important research
Want to find out more? We recently interviewed the MMTP about the project and longevity advocacy, which you can find here