In a recent post in Signals, the blog hosted by the Canadian Centre for the Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, I outline recent developments in the race to develop senescent cell clearance therapies.
The idea of developing biomedical technologies that can repair the underlying cellular and molecular damage that drives the aging process as a way of treating age-related diseases and extending healthy life span is rapidly gaining traction in the biotechnology community. This type of work is now being crowdfunded, part of a trend in crowdfunding regenerative medicine R&D.
The hypothesis that clearing senescent cells could have a rejuvenating effect received a huge boost this past winter:
In a landmark 2012 study, the Mayo Clinic’s Darren Baker and colleagues established the first proof of concept that senescent cells cause age-related functional decline. They genetically modified progeroid mice – which appear to age rapidly, much like humans affected with progeria – in a way that allowed them to selectively remove a class of senescent cells from the mice’s bodies by administering a drug that induced apoptosis (cell death) in these cells. Crucially, they found that clearing senescent cells on a regular basis delayed the development of age-related conditions in the mice’s skeletal muscle, fat and eyes.
While this study provided a proof of concept using a clever design, the extent to which the findings were generalizable to natural aging was unclear, so Baker and colleagues conducted a follow-up study using naturally-aged mice, published this past February in Nature. They found that clearing senescent cells every two weeks increased the median lifespan of male and female mice by up to 35%, and extended their healthspan by delaying the onset of cancer and attenuating age-related deterioration in the kidneys, heart and fat – all with no observed side effects.
You can read the rest of the post HERE.
The Science of Senescent Cells and Aging
For more on the science of senescent cells and their role in aging, watch this talk by Judith Campisi of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, who is a leading scientist in the field and an advisor to senescent cell clearance startup UNITY Biotechnology.
Crowdfunding Senescent Cell Clearance Therapies
To do your part to accelerate the development of senescent cell clearance therapies, you can also donate to the Major Mouse Testing Program crowdfunding campaign:Tags: aging, anti-aging, biotech, crowdfunding, drug development, fundraising, senescent cells
I’ve updated the Funded Science list of crowdfunding platforms for scientific research. Interestingly, health-related portals dominate the list, with over 50% of platforms focusing on drug and/or medical device development.
Portals will be added to the list as they come online. Please let me know if I’m missing any: firstname.lastname@example.org.
List of Crowdfunding Portals for Scientific Research
|Portal||Research Area||Crowdfunding Model||Portal Fee||Based in...|
|Abundance Energy||Clean tech/renewable energy||Equity-based (for-profit)||No Investor Fee||United Kingdom|
|ADHD Fund||Health (ADHD)||Donation-based (non-profit)||n/a||Netherlands|
|AngelMD||Health (General)||Equity-based (for-profit)||No Investor Fee||USA|
|B-a-MedFounder||Health (Medical Devices)||Equity- or Rewards-based (for-profit)||4.5%-10%||Cyprus|
|Capital Cell||Health + Biotech||Equity-based (for-profit)||5%-7%||Spain|
|The Common Good||Health (Prince Charles Hospital Foundation)||Donation-based (non-profit)||n/a||Australia|
|Consano||Health (General)||Donation-based (non-profit)||No Fee||USA|
|DigVentures||Archaeology||Donation-based (for-profit)||4%-9%||United Kingdom|
|Donors Cure||Health (General)||Donation-based (non-profit)||8%||USA|
|Funds4Research||Health (Rare Diseases)||Donation-based (non-profit)||n/a||Spain|
|Fiat Physica||Physics & Astronomy||Donation-based||15%||USA|
|FundScience Australia||General||Donation-based (non-profit)||No Fee||Australia|
|FutSci||General||Donation-based (for-profit)||7%||United Kingdom|
|HealthFundr||Health (General)||Equity-based (for-profit)||Variable||USA|
|HealthiosXchange||Health (General)||Equity-based (for-profit)||Variable||USA|
|MyPharmaCompany||Health||Royalty-based (funds specific products)||n/a||France|
|MyProjects||Health (Cancer)||Donation-based (non-profit)||No Fee||United Kingdom|
|Poliwogg||Health & Life Sciences||Equity-based (for-profit)||No Investor Fee||USA|
|Rare Genomics Institute||Health (Rare Diseases)||Donation-based (non-profit)||No Fees||USA|
|Research Funder NI||Health (Cancer)||Donation-based (non-profit)||No Fees||United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)|
|Science Starter||General||Donation-based (non-profit)||n/a||Germany|
|ScienceVest||Life Sciences||Equity-based (for-profit) - accredited investors only||15% carried interest on investments under US$50,000||USA|
|ShareIn||General (Tech & Health)||Equity-based (for-profit)||3%-5%||United Kingdom|
|Sound Affects||Health (Cancer)||Donation-based (non-profit)||10%||USA|
|Springboard Equity||Health||Equity-based (for-profit)||n/a||USA|
|StartACure||Health (Cancer)||Donation-based (non-profit)||5%||USA|
|TechnoFunding||General||Donation-based (for-profit)||5%||United Kingdom|
|Wellfundr||Health||Donation-based + Equity-based (for-profit)||5%||France|
Science Philanthropy News
- At ALS Association, Fundraising Success Begets Fundraising Success – Fundraising momentum from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge persists.
- What a Great Myeloma Initiative – Crowdfunding to Find the CURE! – Interesting new crowdfunding initiative to support myeloma research.
- Young Silicon Valley billionaires pioneer new approach to philanthropy – Chronicles the focus on measurable impact that guides tech leaders’ approach to charitable giving and science philanthropy.
- A Shake-Up as the Financial World Infiltrates Philanthropy – Interesting take on the growing use of donor-advised funds in philanthropy. For an example in science philanthropy, check out Benefunder, which uses a donor-advised fund model to crowdfund scientific research.
- Biggest Gifts of Year Topped by New $1-Billion Foundation – 5 of the top 10 U.S. philanthropic gifts in 2014 went to healthcare initiatives.
Science Funding Trends
- Freezing Out Young Scientists – New research shows the growing funding crunch faced by young scientists and its negative impact on scientific innovation.
- Sex, Startup Investing, and Raising Children: The Future of Health Startup Investing – Great primer by Healthfundr on the value of equity crowdfunding platforms for angel investors.
- Tech Giants Quietly Investing in Synthetic Biology – Why Intel and Microsoft are investing in synthetic biology.
- McKesson launches new venture fund for health care startups – Focus will be on health-tech, analytics, and eHealth solutions.
- Ten years in, California’s stem cell program is getting a reboot – More on the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s efforts to re-brand into CIRM 2.0 with a renewed focus on getting stem cell therapies into the clinic. This may lay the groundwork for a successful ballot initiative to extend CIRM’s funding. My paper in Science and Public Policy shows how important the perception that CIRM would lead to treatments for degenerative illnesses was to Proposition 71’s electoral success.