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Question Of The Month №3: Making SENS Part Of Medicine
Q: I understand that aging specifically isn't an accepted target for therapy for regulatory purposes at present. How, then, will you get non-experimental therapies utilizing regenerative medicine techniques for the specific pathology of aging available to the common consumer?
A: That isn't nearly as big a challenge as is often portrayed. Remember, the damage-repair approach of SENS isn't an all-in-one treatment with the indication «aging,» but a divide-and-conquer strategy to develop a suite of rejuvenation biotechnologies that each remove, repair, replace, or render harmless one of many specific form of cellular and molecular damage that accumulate in aging bodies. Thus, no one rejuvenation biotechnology will arrest or reverse the degenerative aging process or prevent all of its diseases and disabilities. Ironically, then, even if regulators were to develop an indication for «aging,» individual rejuvenation biotechnologies wouldn't qualify!
By contrast, most forms of aging damage can be quite clearly linked with specific diseases of aging: beta-amyloid protein and malformed tau species for Alzheimer's; lysosomal aggregates in the arterial macrophage/foam cell with atherosclerosis (and through it heart attacks and stroke); cross-linked proteins with hypertension (and through it congestive heart failure, renal disease, and stroke); alpha-synuclein and Parkinson's disease; and so on.
In other cases, rejuvenation biotechnologies could initially be licensed as treatments for certain genetic disorders, even though the /cause/ of the pathology underlying those diseases may not be related to the universal degenerative aging process. This is true, for instance, for most mitochondriopathies (inherited disorders of the mitochondria, many of which are caused by mutations in individual protein-encoding mitochondrial genes). Even though the mutations in these patients are inherited rather than acquired as a result of later metabolic mishaps, the same damage-repair approach (allotopic expression of the protein from the nucleus) can be used to replace the missing or defective protein in the mitochondrial energy-production chain and restore normal cellular function.
So the great majority of rejuvenation biotechnologies — and probably all of them — can be developed as therapies for diseases that are either already accepted as licensable indications, or in a few cases are very likely to be accepted soon (notably, sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass and quality with aging)). Whether degenerative aging is «a disease» or not, and whether it is recognized as such by regulators, is of no consequence to the practical business of turning rejuvenation biotechnology into therapies against its associated conditions.