Targeting mitochondria to increase healthspan - it is all about energy!
Hazel Szeto, MD, PhD
Dr. Hazel H. Szeto is a research scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur in drug development. She received her M.D. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Cornell University Medical College and served on the faculty for 37 years. In 2016, Dr. Szeto left Weill Cornell Medicine to devote her time to direct research for Social Profit Network, a public charity supporting research to promote healthy aging and reduce age-associated disabilities. Dr. Szeto has developed the first class of compounds that enhance energy production in all cells of living organisms. Energy, in the form of ATP, is necessary to maintain normal cell structure and function; and energy deficiency leads to loss of function, tissue breakdown, and inflammation. Aging is associated with damage to mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses, and bioenergetics failure is a hallmark of many age-associated degenerative diseases, such as heart failure and Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Szeto’s new compounds selectively target mitochondria to increase ATP production. In the aged, these compounds rejuvenate energy production, repair mitochondria, regenerate tissues, and restore organ function. Dr. Szeto’s research has resulted in over 200 peer-reviewed publications and more than 60 patents. These new compounds have demonstrated remarkable efficacy in diverse animal disease models, including heart failure, chronic kidney diseases, diabetic complications, neuropathic pain, and neurodegenerative diseases. Her findings have been confirmed and extended by numerous scientific investigators, contributing over 220 papers in peer-reviewed journals. These compounds are now in clinical development sponsored by Stealth Biotherapeutics, a company founded by Dr. Szeto in 2006. The first drug candidate (elamipretide) is currently undergoing Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials for mitochondrial genetic diseases and age-related macular degeneration.

 
  Lecture Description  
  Energy, in the form of ATP, is necessary to maintain normal cell structure and function; and energy deficiency leads to loss of function, tissue breakdown, and inflammation. Aging is associated with structural damage to mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses, and bioenergetics failure is a hallmark of many age-associated degenerative diseases. Recent studies suggest that the mechanism of action of stem cell therapy is due to transfer of healthy mitochondria from stem cells to rescue aged or injured cells to mediate tissue repair. This lecture will describe the discovery of a new class of compounds that can directly restore mitochondria structure and function in aged animals and humans without stem cell mitochondria transfer. There is extensive evidence that these compounds can rejuvenate mitochondrial function and promote tissue regeneration and restore organ function in the aged. The first of these compounds (elamipretide) is currently in clinical trial for age-related macular degeneration.  


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