Jeriaska of Future Current was kind enough to produce a transcript of a February 2008 presentation by Methuselah Foundation chair Aubrey de Grey. The presentation covers some of the same territory as the most recent Foundation progress report, but goes into much more depth on the new research initiatives to be funded by the Foundation’s generous donors:
So, it has been a lot of work. But the upshot is that we will be able to initiate at least three, and perhaps even more, projects this year, over and above the two big projects that we have been doing over the past couple of years – namely, the identification of bacterial genes that can break down things that we can’t, and the relocation of mitochondrial DNA into the nucleus. Both of those projects are obviously continuing and will be growing, in terms of manpower, during this year.
Another area of SENS that is completely separate from cancer is the elimination of cells that won’t die. Of course cancer is a problem of having too many cells because the cells are dividing like crazy. They are also dying like crazy, but they are dividing even more crazily. That’s what cancer is. There are other problems that are caused by cells that are actually not dividing, but they are not dying either, and they are accumulating slowly as a result. They get in the way and cause various problems just by being there.
Probably the most serious example of this is the immune system.
The upshot is that there is a good chance that we are going to be able to fund a project starting this year that will get a good deal further towards the goal in mice of eliminating these clonal expansions of what are called anergic – essentially broken – CD8 cells. The hope certainly is that this will play a large role in rejuvenating the immune system. There is one other thing that we want to do that is also required for rejuvenating the immune system, and that is to restore the size of a very important organ in the immune system called the thymus, which is – for whatever reason – something that shrinks throughout life and gets, even by the sort of age I am, down to 10 or 15% the size that it was in early life. It is believed that this has also a rather large role to play in the increasing dysfunction of the immune system. We want to regrow the thymus as well.
There’s much more along those lines, touching on WILT (Whole-body Interdiction of Lengthening of Telomeres), cancer, stem cell therapies to replace worn tissue, and removal of amyloid, to name a few items.