Saturday, 30 October 2010

What is SENS?

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What is SENS?

Biological aging is a progressive, degenerative process of decay. As aging damage accumulates in our functional cellular and molecular structures, the healthy order laid down in our youth slowly falls apart. This damage occurs as a result of a series of unintended biochemical side-effects of normal metabolism. As more and more of our cellular and molecular structures suffer this damage, functionality is lost, and health, resilience and vitality are slowly taken away from us, leading to increasing age-related pathology. Thus, as laid out in the flowchart: metabolism causes ongoing aging damage, and accumulating damage eventually reaches a critical mass at which it causes age-related frailty, disability, disease, and ultimately death.

What Can We Do About It?

SENS FlowchartMedicine today offers two approaches to dealing with age-related health problems: "geriatrics" and "gerontology." SENS Foundation exists to develop and apply a third, revolutionary approach called SENS, indentified by our Chief Science Officer, Dr. Aubrey de Grey. Together, these three approaches are defined as follows (see the flowchart):
Geriatrics — Wait until disease has set in, due to the ongoing accumulation of aging damage to our bodies, then attempt to alleviate the suffering. The standard medical approach to aging, geriatrics is ultimately a futile struggle against the ongoing, accelerating accumulation of aging damage that makes pathology increasingly inescapable.
Gerontology — Decipher the metabolic pathways that create aging damage in the first place, and then try to make those pathways operate less harmfully, thus slowing the rate at which damage initially occurs. This approach seems intuitive, but has several very limiting drawbacks. First, we are decades, if not centuries, from understanding these complex metabolic processes sufficiently well to improve their functioning; second, this approach requires interfering with the biochemistry of life itself, which inevitably leads to harmful side-effects; third and most important, the gerontological approach cannot cure age-related degenerative processes, but only slow them down.
SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) — SENS approaches the diseases and disabilities of aging from an "engineering" point of view. Instead of seeking to decipher the code of life and interfere with metabolic processes (the gerontological approach), or waiting until it is effectively too late to treat age-related damage and treating symptoms (the conventional medical, geriatric approach), SENS targets the damage of aging itself, bringing it down to levels below the threshold at which it causes problems.

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