Billionaires such as Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg are investing in anti-aging technologies and could soon utilize their fortunes to lengthen their lives and live far longer than any human previously.
Scientists reckon that impressive advances in anti-aging research could mean that humans will be able to outlive their ancestors, but the treatments will come at a price that will currently be unaffordable for most.
This means that the world’s billionaires could be the first to get their hands on the latest ground-breaking treatments.
Billionaires invest in anti-aging
Some are investing their fortunes to develop anti-aging research and technologies, including the founder and former CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos.
In 2021, he reportedly made an investment in Altos Labs, a biotech startup focused on “cellular rejuvenation programming to restore cell health and resilience, with the goal of reversing disease to transform medicine.”
Bezos and Peter Thiel have also both invested in Unity Biotechnology, a South San Francisco-based company that researches “senescent cells,” which stop dividing in humans as they age. The idea, according to the company’s website, is to develop “transformative medicines to slow, halt, or reserve diseases of aging.”
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are co-founders of The Breakthrough Prize, which annually awards three million dollars to scientists who make “transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life,” according to its website.
According to The New Yorker, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has donated at least $370 million to anti-aging research. Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page helped launch biotech start-up Calico, an Alphabet subsidiary that researches aging-related diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Elon Musk isn’t buying in
By contrast, Elon Musk, the richest person on earth has not invested in anti-aging technologies.
“I don’t think we should try to have people live for a really long time,” Musk recently told Insider. “It would cause asphyxiation of society because the truth is, most people don’t change their mind. They just die. So if they don’t die, we will be stuck with old ideas and society wouldn’t advance.”
Anti-aging advances could “exacerbate inequalities”
Bioethicist and Utrecht University Professor Christopher Wareham said these scientific advances could “exacerbate all the kinds of existing inequalities” that we already have.
“Suppose, for example, we had a kind of vaccine for the pandemic of age,” Wareham told The Times. “This is going to potentially exacerbate all the kinds of existing inequalities that we have.”
Wareham added that this inequality could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as billionaires would then have even more time to grow their wealth.
“The longer you’re around, the more your wealth compounds,” the researcher, who studies the ethics of aging, said. “The wealthier you are, the more political influence you have.”
Breakthroughs in anti-aging research that would benefit billionaires
While anti-aging progress was initially slow, scientists have had a series of recent breakthroughs that have seen them identify biological and environmental factors which can cause us to age, including damage to our DNA over time and proteins that don’t behave as they should in our bodies.
In April 2022, scientists figured out a way to reverse some of the physical signs of aging and “reprogrammed” the skin in a group of people aged thirty-eight to fifty-three, with some of them reportedly looking up to thirty years younger.
The technique doesn’t damage the cells, and researchers said they were even able to restore some of the functions that had been lost in older cells.
Scientists have also recently discovered that certain cells seem to drive the aging process and can cause diseases, such as cancer, that become more common as we age.
Studies performed on animals have shown that the removal of these cells could slow this process down, with some believing that it could even reverse it. More than two dozen companies are currently researching ways to remove these cells in humans.
Nir Barzilai, the director of the Institute for Aging Research at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, believes humans may be able to undergo the treatment by the end of this year.
“We are done with hope and promise,” he told the Financial Times. “We are at the point between having promise and realizing it.”
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