Oisin Biotechnologies is a senescent cell clearance company founded by long-standing members of our community, seed funded by the Methuselah Foundation and SENS Research Foundation, and supported by the investment of a number of folk in the audience here. Targeted removal of senescent cells is a form of narrowly focused rejuvenation, shown to turn back numerous measures of aging in animal studies, and the Oisin team has made great strides in proving out their programmable gene therapy approach. This sort of commercialization project is exact what our community has been working towards all these years, and the faster that implementations reach the clinic, the better off we all are.
Oisin Biotechnologies’ ground-breaking research and technology is demonstrating that the solution to mitigating the effects of age-related diseases is to address the damage created by the aging process itself. Our first target is senescent cells. When cells detect that they have been irretrievably damaged, they enter a non-dividing condition known as cell-cycle arrest, or senescence. It’s believed this occurs to prevent cells from going rogue and turning cancerous. Ideally, they should die by the process known as apoptosis, but as we age, more and more frequently they don’t. They become zombie cells – unable to kill themselves or resume normal function.
Senescent cells secrete molecules that cause inflammation in an effort to attract immune cells that would usually clear them. But for reasons that are not fully known, as we age, persistently senescent cells accumulate, leading to a vast number of age-related diseases. Oisin is developing a highly precise, patent-pending, DNA-targeted intervention to clear these cells. As a recent study has shown, clearing senescent cells both reduces negative effects of aging pathologies and also extends median lifespan and survival.
There are two major challenges to clearing senescent cells using our approach. First is to design and create the DNA construct that recognizes that a cell has become senescent, and then destroys it. Second is to safely and efficiently deliver this construct into cells throughout the body. Both goals have been achieved in our pioneering proof of concept experiments in 2016. We’ve first demonstrated the ability to transduce cells both in vitro (cell culture) and in vivo (in aged mice). Then we showed that p16 positive senescent cells can be killed on demand in both in vitro and in vivo environments. Now we are embarked on experiments that will show improvements in both healthspan and lifespan in model organisms from mice to primates. And then, everything changes.
Our proprietary technology gives persistently senescent cells a helping hand to “do the right thing.” By providing an exogenous apoptotic gene, which is only transiently expressed in cells that already have the p16 gene active, we can precisely induce the senescent cell to commit suicide. Oisin has shown as much as an 80% reduction in senescent cells in cell culture and significant reductions of senescent cell burden in naturally aged mice. SENSOlytics is an Oisin proprietary platform technology that enables precise targeting of a senescent cell based on the DNA expression of the cell, not on surface markers or other characteristics that might be shared with normal, undamaged cells.