Jason Hope donated more than $500,000 to fund anti aging research funding to establish the SENS Laboratory in Cambridge and to jump start the AGE breaker program. The SENS Foundation, headed by Dr. Aubrey de Grey, is currently developing AGE breakers which are treatments and pharmaceuticals that have the ability to catabolize or break down molecules produced by advanced glycation. Glycation occurs due to the bonding of a sugar molecule to a protein or fat molecule, without an enzyme. Enzymes are crucial because they help regulate and control how the molecules bond to one another.
These molecules, known as AGES or advanced glycation end products are waste products that build up within the tissues. Some of the AGEs are benign and others are toxic to the body. The harmful AGEs cause progressive damage and loss of functioning to tissues. Examples of this damage include the ability of elasticity in blood vessels and in the skin.
AGEs are associated with many chronic diseases that are age related such as cardiovascular diseases. In these diseases, damage is caused to fibrinogen, endothelium and collagen. An important example of this is atherosclerosis. The end result of the action of AGES is losing elasticity within the blood vessels. Atherosclerosis is more commonly referred to as hardening of the arteries due to the depositing of fat on the walls of blood vessels. This occurs through the destruction of macrophages that are sent to the cell walls of the arteries by AGEs. The purpose of the macrophages is to clean up and remove waste products such as AGEs that are made of mostly cholesterol. Instead, the AGEs poison the macrophages and fat molecules builds up within the arteries. The arteries lose elasticity, constrict the arteries, and limit the flow of blood throughout the body. Blockage of the arteries can lead to stroke and heart attacks.