George Church is recognized as the world’s foremost expert in synthetic biology, which makes his current project that much more exciting. The Harvard Medical School biologist recently launched Rejuvenate Bio on the premise that he could reverse aging in dogs. Church’s company is testing their process on beagles, hoping to be able to instruct DNA to reverse aging in the animals.
Where did this idea come from?
The idea for this procedure came from observing simpler forms of life, such as flies and worms. Scientists have discovered that altering the DNA in these organisms can cause them to live longer, almost twice as long in some cases. In other studies, researchers infused older mice with blood from younger mice, which resulted in the older mice experiencing a restoration of certain biomarkers.
As for the research George Church and his associates are doing at Rejuvenate Bio, they have already had success in testing their theory on rats. Next, they hope to reverse aging in beagle test subjects, before moving on to human trials. While testing on the dogs has already started, the company is keeping their progress under wraps.
Even though Church has spoken about the project in a recent podcast interview with Rob Reid, his partners have declined to discuss the project publicly. Rejuvenate Bio brings George Church together with co-founder and CEO Daniel Oliver and lead researcher Noah Davidsohn. Earlier reports from Tufts Veterinary School in Boston did reveal that the company had tested the procedure on four beagles, but progress since then has been kept private.
Church explained why the company chose to work with dogs in the podcast interview. He explained that, once successful, their longevity shot could be administered to any dog, prolonging the life of the animal. That, in itself, is something for which pet owners will pay, providing a source of revenue that can fund the human trials.
Is it realistic?
While the concept may seem far-fetched to some, it’s not as fantastic as it may sound. Gene editing is already a reality and research is ongoing in many areas. Scientists are confident that gene therapy can be used to cure hereditary diseases and to eliminate addiction in certain individuals. There’s also the belief that the ability to manipulate genes makes age reversal inevitable sooner or later. George Church believes age reversal will be made real sooner rather than later and he hopes to be the one to deliver this advance to us.