Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Want to Help Practical Anti-Aging Research? Here's Your Chance

In the future, we won't need Photoshop.
In the future, we won't need Photoshop. (Photo by Tucia)

If you support the anti-aging movement but are unsure how to help in practice, here's a good chance to do just that without even leaving your computer.

The Immortality Institute has announced a matching grant for anti-aging research. The Institute will match every contribution for the study of laser ablation of lipofuscin up to $8,000. For every dollar you donate, they will donate one too, with the goal of reaching a total of $16,000 in donations.

And what exactly is lipofuscin and why is it important? Here's a quote from the Laser Research Grant website:

Lipofuscin is a byproduct of metabolism - a type of indigestible junk that slowly builds up within (and outside) human cells throughout life. It is most commonly recognized as the "stuff" that gives age spots their color.

As I've discussed on this blog before, the accumulation of waste seems to be a key factor in age-related disease and, ultimately, death from old age. Any technological innovations that target this problem should be warmly welcomed by anyone who is not looking forward to spending their retirement years in poor health.

The technology proposed here is using laser pulses to destroy lipofuscin, also known as Selective Photothermolysis. The use of lasers, LEDs, and infrared light is nothing new in cosmetics, but in this case, the goal is more about reversing damage rather than just covering it up. The research will be conducted by Nason Schooler at the SENS Foundation Research Center in Tempe Arizona. Here's a quote about the study itself:

The current proposed research will use various pulsed laser treatments to investigate the effects on worm lifespan. Human cell culture models will also be used to investigate the dynamics of lipofuscin destruction microscopically in actual human cells.

For more details on how the study will be done, see this video presentation by Mr. Schooler. If you want to further discuss the research – or anything related to increasing lifespans – I highly recommend paying a visit to the imminst.org discussion forums (you can find me there as well, under the name JLL).

The matching grant is open until 17th August, so if you want to donate and get an extra bang for your buck, you have about two weeks (you can donate here). Currently, we're a few hundred short of $3,000, which does not include the matching sum from the Immortality Institute.

If you don't have hundreds of dollars to spend, that's okay – every bit helps. Also, the research will be conducted even if the goal is not reached (just on a lower budget), so donations will definitely not go to waste.

UPDATE: We gathered a whopping $10,077.80 in donations, which will be matched by $8,000 from the Immortality Institute and
by $9,038.9 from private investor Peter Thiel for a grand total of $27,116.70. This means that the goal was more than reached, and the research will take place as intended. Big thanks to everyone who donated!

For more information on anti-aging, see these posts:

How to Live Forever: My 5 Steps to Immortality
Who Wants to Live Forever? Results from a Global Survey
Anti-Aging in the Media: New York Times on Caloric Restriction and Resveratrol
Biotechnology and the Future of Aging

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