Posted: Fri, October 11, 2013 | By: Indefinite Life Extension
Immortal Life wrote to the “I am a little mouse and I want to live longer!” Indiegogo crowdfunding project with a few questions. Various members of the crew, Daniel Wuttke, Anton Kulaga and Dmitri Shytikov answered.
Your “I am a little mouse and I want to live longer!” Indiegogo campaign is inspiring. It’s important that people like you lead the way on crucial initiatives like this because it gets more people involved through crowdfunding and it advances the knowledge base. As we know, to have the best chances of achieving indefinite life extension in our lifetimes, we need as many people to pitch in as possible. This project seems to be a big door and precedent in that way.
Q: What methods of experimentation have increased mouse lifespans in the past?
A: Anton: For lifespan experiments several databases exist, one of them we created and maintain at Denigma ( http://denigma.de/lifespan/interventions/ ). There you can filter the results by model organisms and see mouse data. The best results on mice are awarded with M-Prize established by Methuselah Foundation. The best results by now are: 1819 days for longevity achieved by Andrzej Bartke and 1356 days for rejuvenation (manipulation on old adult mice) achieved by Steven Spindler. Steven is chief scientific advisor of the “Little mouse” project.
Lifespan interventions can basically be subdivided into two groups: genetic and non-genetic. Genetic interventions are usually done by inserting a transgene into a fertilized oocyte or cells from the early embryo. It is also possible to do genetic modifications after birth (for instance on adult organisms) but this is much harder as in such a case the virus you use to deliver genetic changes will have to infect a huge amount of cells. For this reason we chose non-genetic manipulations in “Little mouse project”. All the drugs that we give mice are allowed to be taken by humans so if we achieve substantial mice lifespan extension it will be possible to think about human trials where biomarkers will be used to measure the impact of the drugs.
Q: As stated at the Indiegogo mouse project fundraising page, even failed experiments can provide valuable data. Can you expand on that? What is a good example from other research?
A: Daniel: The combination of several drugs might be harmful, because of the possibility of drug-drug interaction with adverse effects.
Dmitri: We have chosen a number of prospective geroprotectors. All of them have proven their efficiency being single drug and even in combination with some other drugs (not all) and these results are already published. But no one has tested a combination of these drugs. We think that our combination can be effective. Of course, adverse and undesirable effects are possible, but if we do not test we cannot know. If we get undesirable effects, we at least can take them into account in the future.
Q: Some months ago, the US government cut the budget of the National Institutes of Health and other research facilities by 5%. The budget almost always increases, spare a recent 3% decrease because of severe recession. Appropriations history shows that the budget has never faced a cut-back like that. I cannot help but wonder if this has prompted projects like Google’s recent and monumental news of the formation of their new aging research initiative, Calico. About your project, you write, “if we wait any longer, the mice will be in the “strong dying phase” of their life and it will make the experiment useless.” It seems like a great time to get involved with more private ventures that get the world public involved, like yours. How do you look at those sorts of factors?
A: Daniel: Exactly the time is coming that the private people can decide where to invest the money for research rather than going through the government which is not really interested in lifespan extension.
Dmitri: Life actually is always not in time. At the beginning we had mice and idea and exactly in this moment. This project is really prospective, and waiting for an official grant will take much more time than possible. So as this experiment should be done now, crowdfunding is also needed now. This is life and sometimes there is a need to act just right now. Of course future projects will be made with more precise planning, but now let`s have a look on the current project.
Anton: It is great that people and companies are starting to realize how important healthy life extension is. Ageing research is not just a matter of curiosity, it is vital for all of us! After Samsung and Google entered the field the situation has changed as more companies and people outside of academia and health industry became interested in funding ageing research. Overall each funding source has its pros and cons. Conventional academic funding is still good for fundamental science but it is conservative and very slow, a lot of time elapses between grant application and reception of funding. Crowdfunding is much faster and more flexible, it is good for innovative and risky projects. Funding from commercial companies is somewhere in between except for their more for-profit orientation. We could not wait long for academic funding so we’ve made our choice and we hope that other ageing researchers will also try crowdfunding for their projects.
Q: Your ambitions to continue ramping this up into a research facility are inspiring. I hope you raise the full amount and more. Each individual’s efforts, or lack thereof, can end up making or breaking projects like this. Every successful project of this type goes a long way. We’ve seen this cause spring from nearly inert and stagnant beginnings, since just a decade or so ago, because of projects much less ambitious than this one. It should go a long way if it’s successful, don’t you think?
A: Daniel: Yes, this is the beginning of the establishment of an automated lifespan testing center that will automate lifespan experiments.
Anton: A lot of work still has to be done. What is important is that we are not only doing a research project but also building bridges between people and organizations that support healthy life extension and are constantly trying new things.
Q: The backing that you’ve already garnered looks impressive. Can you tell us a bit about that?
A: Daniel: The initial thousands were invested quite early. The Methuselah Foundation caught interest and guaranteed the addition of a thousand dollars matching funds for every thousand reached up to the full goal. The goal has already passed the halfway point.
Thank you for your time and good luck with your project. We look forward to continuing to support your work.
The following is a quote from their Indiegogo project crowdfunding page.
WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO
Life is precious. Health too. This is why communities of researchers and citizens dedicate our lives to discover new ways to gain additional years of healthy life.
As research progresses, more and more compounds are believed to be good to maintain health over long periods of time. But wouldn’t that take decades of clinical trials to verify it? A key step is to do such a clinical trial… in mice : that is what we call a mouse lifespan test. Mouse lifespan tests are infrequent because of their length, their costs and the required environments; but it is crucially needed to continue adding years of healthy life.
Here, we step on the shoulders of giants : by contributing you can help us test a combination of drugs shown to extend healthy lifespan in mice. The largest life extension in mice so far resulted from a similar effort, where one mouse lived very close to 5 years (mice usually live 2-3 years)! The result should be key to optimally search for additional years of healthy life.
The fund has raised over $10,000 of the goal of $15,000 total, with 9 days left to go. You can help make the final push to help reach this goal. If the project can’t be funded to the basic specifications then it could suffer, and then the cause suffers. This is another great project for supporters of this cause, of all kinds, to come together on to help make a success.
Interested supporters can contribute to this project here up until October 20, 2013 (11:59pm PT).