Having conquered space, apparently, billionaire Jeff Bezos is now turning his sights on extending the human lifespan. Bezos, a self-proclaimed “biohacker,” has invested billionaires in a company dedicated to developing antiaging protocols and technologies.
It’s been reported that Bezos has joined a Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner to invest a total of $3 billion in Altos Labs. Altos is heavily involved in developing regenerative medicine techniques and cellular rejuvenation programming to restore cell health and resilience and to reverse disease, injury, and disabilities – and perhaps even aging itself.
Serving on the Altos Board of Directors and advisors are a number of Nobel Laureates, including Japanese stem cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka.
Hal Barron, the new CEO, was formerly the chief scientist for U.S. pharma major GlaxoSmithKline. “It’s clear from work by Shinya Yamanaka, and many others since his initial discoveries, that cells have the ability to rejuvenate, resetting their epigenetic clocks and erasing damage from a myriad of stressors,” he says. “These insights, combined with major advances in a number of transformative technologies, inspired Altos to reimagine medical treatments where reversing disease for patients of any age is possible.”
Also, part of the team that Bezos and Milner have assembled for the antiaging startup is Jennifer Doudna, the co-winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her role in developing the gene-editing tool CRISPR, Frances Arnold, who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work on enzymes engineering, and David Baltimore, a 1975 Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine.
Although the goal of extending lifespan is the main headline, scientists insist that expectations should not be too high. “This message needs to be clear [the mission of Altos] is not about extending the lifespan,” Vittorio Sebastiano of Stanford University told Nature. “What we care about is increasing the healthspan of people … and that you don’t have to live for a long time in a condition of frailty.”
Altos Labs was incorporated in the U.S. and the U.K. last year by Richard Klausner, 70, who was the head of the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. Altos Labs has operations in San Francisco, San Diego, and Cambridge in the U.K., with significant collaborations in Japan.
“Altos seeks to decipher the pathways of cellular rejuvenation programming to create a completely new approach to medicine, one based on the emerging concepts of cellular health,” Klausner said in a statement. “Remarkable work over the last few years beginning to quantify cellular health and the mechanisms behind that, coupled with the ability to effectively and safely reprogram cells and tissues via rejuvenation pathways, opens this new vista into the medicine of the future.”