Program release version • February 2009
The value of a long and healthy life is obvious to every reasonable person. Therefore, aging is a serious and until now unsolved problem. Slowly but inexorably, aging decreases the quality of life, makes people weak and powerless, prevents the realization of people’s aspirations. Sooner or later, it leads to death.
Today, the growing desire for a long, high-quality and healthy life becomes increasingly obvious in developed countries. This is confirmed by the strong demand for fitness, anti-aging services, etc. The share of people who openly express this desire for life extension is growing. According to a public opinion poll conducted in Russia in 2008, 78% of Russians do not ever want to age.
The problem of aging has become relevant in politics. Demographers warn that in the coming decades aging population and decreased birthrates will place a heavy burden on social security and pension systems in all developed countries. The remaining workforce may become unable to support the growing number of retirees.
Leading gerontologists from 10 countries declared in an open letter that aging can be slowed down and healthy life can be prolonged. We share the view that the problem of aging can be solved in the next few decades and that humankind already has everything necessary.
1. Our society has financial resources for solving this problem — a major project to defeat aging would cost only about 30 billion dollars.
2. A large body of knowledge about aging has been accumulated that is being used to create a unified system model of human aging.
3. Powerful new technologies in genomics, drug design, mathematical modeling and other fields make it increasingly possible to control and direct processes inside the human body.
4. Many promising ideas and aging hypothesis that can help solve the remaining problems have been developed.
Unfortunately, these opportunities are not being fully used, the efforts of researchers are largely uncoordinated, science and society do not have a clear overarching goal – to defeat aging.
It has become apparent that to significantly extend human life we must:
1. review the present state of research into curing aging
2. establish scientifically-based goals
3. create a unified research program for fundamental gerontology
4. develop new medical technologies.
The task of eliminating aging is extremely complex — both in terms of science, and in organization, planning and implementation. Separate projects in biophysics, biochemistry, pharmacology, genomics, cryobiology, immunology and other fields should be joined within an integrated scientific framework. Gerontology must set the strategy for development of life sciences. We must realize that life extension is the primary purpose of scientific research. Scientific collaboration will create synergy between different research projects and will allow us to defeat aging faster than with uncoordinated and uncontrolled research. The difference in time — possibly tens of years can — save millions of lives.
To join the efforts of individual scientists, research and health institutions, non-government and political organizations at international coordinating center of the program is needed. It’s primary tasks are:
1. attracting renowned experts in life sciences and research management to the project
2. creating a scientific and organizational program
3. developing a plan to implement this program
4. promoting this program in social, business, and political circles.
In October 2008 a working group was created to develop and promote a comprehensive program to defeat aging. It was set up in Russia by the “Science for Life Extension” foundation. The project is supported by many Russian and international researchers.
Clearly, to create a comprehensive research program to defeat aging (and to carry out the research) many organizations from different countries need to act together for the project to be finished in reasonable time. Such program should be created and implemented with broad international support of scientists, politicians, businessmen, and society.
We note that most of the program should be organizational and managerial in nature. Its successful realization will consolidate scientists from different countries, consolidate and commercialize intermediate research results, paving the way for attracting large-scale government and international funding.
We understand that to defeat aging is a very difficult task, but mankind has already met similar challenges in the past. The space project, the Human Genome project, construction megaprojects are all successful examples of our abilities. This experience gives us confidence that such an ambitious project to eliminate aging is feasible.
We think that all steps to create the program needs to be carefully planned: from defining a common methodology for extraction of expert knowledge to distribution of research topics and funding between different laboratories.
We ask scientists and managers to share their knowledge and experience in creating collaborations, organizing research and using expert knowledge, lobbying and managing large projects.
“Science for Life Extension” foundation, Leninsky pr. 15, 119071, Moscow, Russia.
+7 495 748-69-37
The development of the program involves the following stages (deliverables marked in bold):
1. Writing an industry report (a report on key aspects of fight against aging).
2. Developing the project strategy.
3. Creating a detailed implementation plan.
4. Developing a scientific program to eliminate aging.
5. Lobbying for the finished program.
The program to eliminate aging should be promoted and lobbied for in national governments, to international organizations, among private sponsors and investors.
The first step in our project is to write a review of key aspects of fight against aging (a market report) so that potential partners, experts, sponsors and everyone else could see the overall picture of the struggle to defeat aging.
We invite you to join now the discussion about ways and means to combat aging organized by our foundation, while this review is being prepared and later during the project planning. Describe your vision of the scientific program, help excite the society about research into mechanisms of aging, share your experience in relevant fields. We are always open to co-operation and are glad to get in touch with you!
A report on key aspects of fight against aging
Right now the foundation project team works on the first major deliverable – a report about the fighting against aging field. This document will shed some light on a very uncertain area and will provide participants with basic knowledge about this topic. Once it’s completed, participants, experts, journalists, politicians and the public will be able to get a comprehensive understanding of all aspects related to aging that are important for project success.
We call for directors of science organizations, lobbyists, sociologists, public relations specialists, financiers, methodologists and all professionals interested in fighting aging to provide any possible assistance to the project. The first round of consultations with experts is under way. This includes individual interviews with experts and work sessions with several (3-5) specialists. During the sessions additional questions to explore are formulated, while the information gathered is included in the report. As a result knowledge needed for fighting aging becomes available to everyone.
Understanding aging and the development of science program
The report section describing modern understanding of aging has significant importance on its own. In this section we will present a coherent description of aging process, its nature and characteristics of human aging. The content will be based on presently available scientific knowledge about aging.
No such description is available yet. Both scientific works on gerontology and popular articles rarely do more than list hypotheses about causes of aging. The information is poorly structured and doesn’t form a coherent system.
We plan to work in close contact with leading experts on systems approach to study of aging. We will collect information about key processes that comprise human aging and combine it into a single system illustrated on a single diagram. The level of detail will be determined by practical considerations – we plan to make a general outline before going into details of individual processes. This diagram will show “white spots” that call for further studies and opportunities for interventions in the aging process.
In this section we will highlight key aspects of aging, such as its evolutionary nature, the existence of specific mechanisms of aging, specificity of aging by tissue and organ types and others.
Aging: a system of life, aging and death processes in human organism and possible interventions (overall view).
This description will make it possible to communicate our vision of the project to our partners and experts. It will also help attract potential new participants in the project.
In addition this description will serve as a starting point for development of the scientific program to eliminate aging. After outlining the modern understanding of aging we will start work on a roadmap (a concept of the program outlining key directions for research) to elimination of aging. The roadmap will be expanded and finalized at an interactive scientific conference in a “Dahlem conference” format (very effective Dahlem Konferenzen workshops were held in the Free University of Berlin since 1974). Participants at such conference will do more than just give presentations, during a whole week they will work in groups on a section of the roadmap.
The roadmap will be expanded with information about specific research projects and other information. The resulting document will contain the “scientific program to eliminate aging”. We will then lobby for it to be accepted and funded. Large scale research project will thus be initiated, culminating in the development of methods and tools to first slow and then completely eliminate human aging.
Today we want to offer one approach to developing the program to cure aging for discussion, comments and criticism. This approach has been developed by a group of Russian researchers for “Science for life Extension” foundation.
PROGRAM AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
Development and application of scientific methods in order to substantially extend human healthy lifespan
Research in fundamental mechanisms of aging
Development of methods for intervention in the aging process in order to slow it down
Practical application of the scientific findings in order to substantially extend human healthy lifespan
Drawing up a complex interdisciplinary proposal for research into aging mechanisms
Defining the essential forms and means of international cooperation for the implementation of the proposal
Defining the essential forms and means of international cooperation for the implementation of the proposal
Concluding an international agreement about cooperation on research into aging
Implementing the plan and achieving its priority objectives