Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), by a more general definition, is an engineering strategy to reverse the effects of ageing via regenerative medicine. What it supposes is that ageing is bad (I use this term to describe negative things that reduce the complexity of complex systems) and so reversing ageing is desirable, reversing ageing is possible, and that we know just enough about ageing to cure enough of it to live a bit longer until we cure the next ageing related problem (Longevity Escape Velocity). The opposite of this viewpoint would be that ageing is a good thing, or that it is impossible to cure. This opposite view is very rarely held by gerontologists and other scientists, instead many say that ageing is bad and it is possible to cure, just not in the timespan suggested by many SENS proponents.
I find that SENS foundation (SENSF) is the only research body that I would consider both mature and progressive enough in the field, of engineering a solution to the problem of death, that I am forced to stand by it because I see no alternative except those who seem morbidly obsessed with the intricacies of death rather than those of life. Creating a separate institution somewhere in-between SENSF and the American Aging Association might be more funding friendly and attractive to more genuine scientists whilst still maintaining a life extension agenda, but too many institutions would be bad for solidarity.
I have to say that one reason that many keep coming back to is Aubrey de Grey as their reason for not thinking SENS is reasonable. Now, I am sure it is easier to put Aubrey de Grey as the leader of such a wave when invariably he attracts all sorts of characters to him who not only respect or admire him, but are looking at him to save them, in the same sort of way that many scientific intellectuals put their faith in the technological singularity. This view of Aubrey as a godhead should be propagated less by both sides as there are many scientists involved in SENS, some of which I have read plenty of high impact factor journal papers by, and no, I am not talking about Rejuvenation Research papers either. Aubrey de Grey I have seen is trying to counteract problems concerning his status at present by splitting the management of the SENSF to a number of people and referring newcomers to others instead of them asking him for answers and treating him as some sort of oracle. I am sure he also discourages linking himself to the wackier, crank characters that flock to him, instead trying to maintain more scientific networks; in just the same way that many gerontologists try to distance themselves from him. I must make it said that I feel awful writing about Aubrey as I think he has done a lot more than many scientists to capture the essence of what it is to be a scientist-to be at once intellectually responsible and an intellectual rebel.
Multiple distressing rumours concerning what without sarcasm or irony can be said to be dark maniacal schemes fit only for necromantic wizards that Aubrey and his scientific collaborators are involved in (and I am not talking about beard growing competitions) have been alluded. Can we blame the scientists spreading such rumours and hostilities? Conservative ageing scientists are scared that their already dwindling budget will be slashed further, but creating rumours about the things politicians and the public most fear will surely do no good to themselves. Concerning such rumour mongering I am sure the rest of the gerontological community would be happy to help slay the dragon they have created out of Aubrey by laying waste to any unfounded rumours at once.
As a final point I would like to list some pros of SENS to balance all the cons of such a risky endeavour: It encourages more theoretical biology, biotech innovation and interdisciplinary study. I find too much of molecular biology to be scripted and for nobody to really question how problems are being tackled. Other areas such as cancer research could learn a lot from the thought processes behind SENS, even if they are loath to think about WILT, which I do not blame them for.
Mindless screens of genes and proteins do not provoke or inspire innovation. It is only when someone says that, fundamentally, that they do not like what is going on, so lets go back to the drawing board and rethink the whole scenario that paradigm shifts (an overly misused phrase) occur.