Aubrey de Gray – the key to discovering the fountain of youth?
The son of an artist, Aubrey de Gray was encouraged into studying mathematics and science from a young age, eventually studying at Cambridge University, joining the Sinclair Research Department as an artificial intelligence and software development expert, he then became an authority in the area of genetics. He was awarded a PHD on the basis of his book, ‘The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging’ published in 1999. De Gray writes that prevention of damage to mitochondrial DNA might extend the lifespan considerably… in simpler terms? A lesson on mitochondria is in order…
What is Mitochondria?
Mitochondria is like the ammunition that fuels our cells. Damaged or ageing mitochondria, means sick and damaged cells. Each of us have 2 – 3000 mitochondria in each cell, and each of our mitochondria contains its own unique DNA. Because of this, mitochondria are able to thrive and multiply, in a healthy cellular environment. What happens in an unhealthy cellular environment?? Oxidative stress! Poor diet and lifestyle contributors are the leading cause, with factors such as cigarettes and alcohol playing a huge part too. We cannot internally produce enough antioxidants to battle nefarious free radicals each day, and mitochondria are damaged in the process. When our mitochondria suffers, we degenerate and the process of ageing is rapidly accelerated. And here, Audrey de Gray’s research is changing the face of anti-ageing.
In 2005, Professor De Gray set up a foundation based on this research – Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), which aims to prevent age-related physical and cognitive degeneration. A huge injection of funding from his mother’s death in 2011 has doubled the research budget to $4 million per year. His research is incredibly interesting, and more than innovative – though he maintains the theory that there is enough knowledge to create effective anti-ageing medicine in existence, but science is way ahead of funding.
De Gray’s research now centers around a clever play on words, ‘The Seven Deadly Things.’ De Gray believes these to be cancer causing mutations in the chromesome, cellular function fighting mitochondrial mutations, intra-cellular junk – caused by bad proteins and metabolic waste, extra-cellular junk (outside the cells), cellular damage and eventual loss, too many cells – when the cells are unable to divide, but then stop others dividing, causing a host of issues including type 2 diabetes, extra-cellular crosslinks – bad proteins forming links between cells and tissues.
We are sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to hear what incredible discoveries SENS will make in the field of regenerative medicine. It poses the very real hope that there really will be no need to get sick as we become old. Incredibly, research is suggesting that we can do more than just halt the ageing process, soon we may just be able to reverse it as well.
And what of natural prevention? We have and will be discussing many more topics in this blog in the coming weeks. Watch this space!