How to Compete
If you are conducting or planning a mouse life extension study, it is not essential for eligibility for the prize that you tell us about it at the earliest opportunity, but it is strongly in your interests (and, coincidentally, ours!) that you do so. The earlier in the experiment you contact us, the less chance there will be of our being unable to validate a claimed record-breaker to the satisfaction of our scientific advisory board (SAB), which is a prerequisite for a payout. Further, the point of the prize is to give publicity to the best mammalian life-extension research; by registering your mice with us you and your work will be brought to the attention of a wide audience, with all the positive consequences for prestige and funding that that entails.
The mechanism for enrolling your mice, for keeping us up to date on their survival, and for claiming a prize is mainly geared toward making it impossible to overstate the age of a claimed winner. While we know that cheating is incredibly unlikely, it is critical for the credibility (and thus the prestige) of the prize that competitors be seen to be unable either to cheat or to make mistakes about the age of their mice.
The only absolute requirement for eligibility for the Longevity or the Rejuvenation Prize is that you deliver your claimed winner to us, to arrive within a week of its death, in a condition that leaves no possibility that it has been dead for appreciably longer than you claim. We will then have the age of your mouse estimated by aspartate racemisation measurements of several tissues that are known not to be recycled during the mouse's lifetime. This will give us an estimate that we can be confident is not off by more than a month. If other circumstances are not in any way suspicious, we will accept the age at death that you state so long as it is not more than one month older than the estimate which we get from the racemisation measurements. However, we do not specify in advance what would constitute such suspicion -- that decision is at the discretion of the SAB at the time.
In order to maximize the confidence that there will be no such query over a claimed win, we therefore ask you to do as follows at the start of your experiment, or as soon as possible if it is already in progress:
1) E-mail us a table indicating, for each mouse in your experiment:
2) Tag the mice in a manner that prevents any accidental switching of younger mice with older ones. We will accept any of the usual systems (subcutaneous microchips, tattooing, ear tags, etc), but we do require you to use some such system and to have put it in place within a short period of the start of your experiment. If the experiment has already been in progress for some time and you have not used such a system, please alert us at once so that we may consult the Mprize advisory board, who will rule on what we need you to do.
3) We also ask you to notify us promptly of the death of any mouse that you have registered with us in this way, so that we can remove its details from our list of enrolled mice.
Please note that for the Rejuvenation Prize it is necessary to demonstrate that the mice had received no interventions at all, whether genetic, dietary or pharmacological, until the declared age of onset of the study at which the first intervention was begun; before this age, the mouse must be "normal." In particular, any transgenic change to a mouse (unless performed by somatic gene therapy) counts as an intervention begun at age zero, so the "nominal age" of such mice is just their actual age, whatever else you may do to them later (such as late-onset caloric restriction, for example). For interventions to be accepted as having been begun later, it is essential that you provide us with good documentary evidence that prior to that age they were not given any form of treatment that qualifies as an intervention. This is why we ask for source and date of delivery to you of mice that you did not generate yourself. Where such evidence is unavailable or not applicable, the advisory board will decide on a case-by-case basis whether your documentation suffices; again, this is most likely to be a favorable decision the earlier in the experiment you contact us.
One last thing applies when and if one of your mice gets within a month of beating the LP or RP record: we need to receive evidence that it is still in a reasonably healthy state. Our scientific advisors have ruled that this should be defined as an ability to feed itself. Therefore, when we see that a mouse that you have not yet told us is dead is within a month of beating a record, we will contact you, and having confirmed that it really is still alive we will arrange to visit your laboratory to verify the mouse's health. Thereafter, for the remaining lifetime of the mouse, we will ask you to email us a short video clip of the mouse at least once per week, demonstrating its continuing health.
Where Can I Get Pre-Aged Mice?
Longevity Prize Details
The Longevity Prize is won whenever the world record lifespan for a mouse of the species most commonly used in scientific work, Mus musculus, is exceeded.
The amount won by a winner of the Longevity Prize is in proportion to the size of the fund at that time, but also in proportion to the margin by which the previous record is broken. The precise formula is:
Previous record: X days
Thus, hypothetically, if the new record is twice the previous one, the winner receives half the fund. If the new record is 10% more than the old one, the winner receives 1/11 of the fund, and so on. The fund can thus never be exhausted, and the incentive to break the new record remains intact indefinitely.
The developers of a record-breaking intervention will receive prize money every week from the point at which their oldest living mouse beat the previous record. The amount paid each week will be calculated as though their mouse had just died, and the total amount won so far by a living record-breaker will be prominently displayed on the Mprize web site.
Rejuvenation Prize Details
The Rejuvenation Prize is not awarded for the life extension of an individual mouse but for a published, peer-reviewed study. The study must satisfy the following criteria:
1) The treated and control groups must have consisted of at least 20 mice each.
2) The intervention must have commenced at an age at least half of the eventual mean age at death of the longest-lived 10% of the control group.
3) The treated mice must have been assessed for at least five different markers that change significantly with age in the controls, and there must be a statistically significant reversal in the trajectory of those five markers in the treated mice at some time after treatment began versus some time before it began. The experimenters select the comparison times, both before and after. It is acceptable for other markers to fail to show this reversal.
The record that the next winner must beat is the mean age at death of the longest-lived 10% of the treated group.
Conveniently, the Rejuvenation Prize does not require the same rigorous validation procedures as the Longevity Prize, because the age involved is defined to be that reported in the publication of the study.
The amount won by a successful new Rejuvenation Prize record is calculated in the same way as for the Longevity Prize, but is only awarded upon publication of the study in question. Just as for the Longevity Prize, if the new record - the mean age at death of the longest-lived 10% of the treated group - is twice the previous one, the winner receives half the fund. Or if the new record is 10% more than the old one, the winner receives 1/11 of the fund, etc.
Competitor Michal Masternak
My work expands on the work of Andrzej Bartke, the previous MPrize winner. The long life of his mouse resulted from "knocking out" the growth hormone receptor. We recognize that several types of dwarf mice have a longer lifespan than other mice. Our team will combine these two factors and breed mice lacking both growth hormone and growth hormone receptor.
We are breeding 80 extremely small mice, we expect them to be exceptionally long-lived but otherwise they are normal. Other groups of mice will be used to study insulin/glucose function to be able to correlate these changes with longevity outcome. A lack of insulin and/or trouble responding to insulin is a common health threat to overweight people. Additionally, people become insulin resistant and glucose intolerant as they age.
We are discovering as we go with the hope of creating a model to start the search for the genes that indicate a long, healthy life. We expect to be able to isolate the genes and make alterations without changing the whole phenotype.