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What is SENS?

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  • Written By: Michael Anissimov
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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SENS stands for Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, a detailed plan for reversing human aging. It is an engineering approach that seeks to slow and then halt aging processes that are the side effects of our body's metabolic cycles. The proposal originated with Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a Cambridge biogerontologist who has been featured on CNN, the New York Times, New Scientist, Popular Science, MIT's Technology Review, Fortune magazine, and BBC News. SENS is represented by the Methuselah Institute, which has raised US$3M in pledges towards the Methuselah Mouse prize, a reward for researchers who achieve success in extending the lifespans of laboratory mice. The idea is that radical success with mouse life extension would open the floodgates of enthusiasm for human anti-aging techniques along the same lines.

The SENS website lists the seven causes of pathogenic damage underlying aging:

  • 1) cell depletion
  • 2) chromosomal mutations (cancer)
  • 3) mitochrondrial mutations
  • 4) unwanted cells that won't die
  • 5) extracellular crosslinks
  • 6) extracellular junk
  • 7) intracellular junk

These seven sources of damage are treated as comprehensive because they were all discovered over 20 years ago, and our tools for detecting sources of pathology have improved so greatly over this time, that if there were others to be found, they would be obvious by now. The SENS plan proposes the following solutions which respectively correspond to the seven causes of aging:

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  • 1) Stem cells, growth factors, exercise
  • 2) WILT (Whole-body Interdiction of Lengthening of Telomeres)
  • 3) Allotopic expression of 13 proteins
  • 4) Cell ablation, reprogramming
  • 5) AGE-breaking molecules/enzymes
  • 6) Phagocytosis; beta-breakers
  • 7) Transgenic microbial hydrolases

De Grey proposes a 50/50 chance that within twenty to thirty years, our implementations of the above countermeasures will become sophisticated enough to lower the rate of aging to negligibility. After that point, the only threats to life which would remain are disease, war, accidents, and technological or natural disasters. The idea of reversing aging is quite radical, but SENS represents a comprehensive plan and research program for achieving this goal.

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