Introducing the Longevity Research Institute

post by sarahconstantin · 2018-12-14T20:20:00.532Z · score: 82 (28 votes) · LW · GW · 11 comments

I’ve just founded a nonprofit, the Longevity Research Institute — you can check it out here.

The basic premise is: we know there are more than 50 compounds that have been reported to extend healthy lifespan in mammals, but most of these have never been tested independently, and in many cases the experimental methodology is poor.

In other words, there seems to be a lot of low-hanging fruit in aging.  There are many long-lived mutant strains of mice (and invertebrates), there are many candidate anti-aging drugs, but very few of these drugs have actually been tested rigorously.

Why?  It’s an incentives problem.  Lifespan studies for mice take 2-4 years, which don’t play well with the fast pace of publication that academics want; and the FDA doesn’t consider aging a disease, so testing lifespan isn’t on biotech companies’ critical path to getting a drug approved.  Mammalian lifespan studies are an underfunded area — which is where we come in.

We write grants to academic researchers and commission studies from contract research organizations.  Our first planned studies are on epitalon (a peptide derived from the pineal gland, which has been reported to extend life in mice, rats, and humans, but only in Russian studies) and C3 carboxyfullerene (yes, a modified buckyball, which prevents Parkinsonism in primate models and has been reported to extend life in mice).  I’m also working on a paper with Vium about some of their long-lived mice, and a quantitative network analysis of aging regulatory pathways that might turn up some drug targets.

We’re currently fundraising, so if this sounds interesting, please consider donating. The more studies that can be launched in parallel, the sooner we can get results.

11 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2018-12-15T05:22:36.942Z · score: 15 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Are there any kinds of help you are open to receiving besides monetary donations?

comment by shminux · 2018-12-15T21:35:55.319Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Do I understand it correctly that you are not working on "negligible senescence", where there is probably no low-hanging fruit, but on improved health within the "natural" lifespan, eventually bringing an average human to the level of, say, top 0.1% of the healthiest individuals, who still die in their 90s, but enjoy the quality of health matching someone 40 years younger up until the very end?

comment by ChristianKl · 2018-12-17T14:36:57.371Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Before a drug-trial you don't know the outcome. Your description of a possible goals feels to me to specific. The plans seem to be to take existing anti-aging candidates and see what effects they actually have.

comment by johnswentworth · 2018-12-14T23:01:12.623Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Is vium's data on long-lived mice something they're willing to share more generally? What kind of data do they have?

comment by kinchen · 2019-04-28T18:39:15.570Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

From the website:

We reverse the usual grant-giving process: we seek out top researchers and offer them grants to run lifespan studies of the most promising drugs.

Is anyone doing something analogous for AI safety? I.e., contacting academics and asking (paying) them to do AI safety.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2019-04-28T21:29:42.285Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, I think both Open AI and MIRI are recruiting from academic institutions, but I don't think there is any institution that is offering money to researchers who want to do independent research. I actually think this could be a pretty good idea.

comment by Raemon · 2019-04-29T00:13:11.963Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I think there are institutions offering money to independent researchers, just not actively seeking them out and recruiting as such.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2019-04-29T00:24:44.766Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that's only barely true. The closest thing might be the LTF-Fund and BERI. MIRI has done a bit of support of independent researchers in their work on MIRI-X and operational support for AI Impacts, but neither of those two projects is trying to directly incentivize independent research.

I think EA-Grants has given away some money for research, but not super much and I don't really anything for AI-Alignment related things.

comment by avturchin · 2018-12-16T16:23:11.403Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It would be great to have "life extension" forum on the same engine as AI alignment, LW and Effective-altruism.

Also, do you consider fighting aging as a EA cause?

comment by Mary Chernyshenko (mary-chernyshenko) · 2018-12-15T08:55:47.186Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do you plan to work with dogs, or better, pigs, as closer to humans in biochemistry? And if so, are there pig hereditary lines already developed for lab work?

comment by Leafcraft · 2018-12-17T14:09:59.917Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you happen to accept proposal for research that you can fund?