Home Business The super rich are eyeing the “anti-aging” track

The super rich are eyeing the “anti-aging” track


In recent years, big names in the tech world, including Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and the founder of Google, have invested heavily in the anti-aging field.

A US$3 billion financing shocked the life sciences field.

At the beginning of 2022, Altos Labs, a start-up company from California, USA, was born with a huge financing of US$3 billion. The main topic of the company’s research is-“immortality”.

Financial backers behind Altos Labs include former world’s richest man Jeff Bezos and Russia’s top billionaire Yuri Milner.

“Avoiding death” may sound a bit fanciful. But since ancient times, humans have been pursuing how to extend lifespan, especially the super rich. After gaining freedom, they have set their sights on a more profound and challenging field: intervening in aging.

In the past decade, technology giants including Google have been investing in cutting-edge anti-aging research. Google founder Larry Page and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have spent prodigiously in this regard.

With huge financial support, the technological development of “reversing aging” has entered a period of explosive development. According to data provided by market data research platform CB Insights, the global anti-aging market size is expected to exceed US$271 billion by 2024. Is the anti-aging track focused on by the super rich really just a gimmick?

Blessed by “Luxury Heavenly Group”

How compelling are anti-aging stories? Altos Labs, which was born in the United States, has received a total of US$3 billion in financing, most likely because it discovered the secret of cell rejuvenation.

“Cell reprogramming” technology is the main research direction of Altos Labs. This is a method that can rejuvenate cells and reverse functionally damaged aging cells into “young” cells.

In 2012, Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his somatic cell reprogramming technology. Cell reprogramming has become one of the most promising biotechnologies of this era.

Some scientists believe that cell reprogramming could be extended to tissues and organs throughout the animal in order to extend lifespan.

The founding scientists of Altos Labs have claimed that they will eventually use molecular techniques to radically extend life by 40 years or more.

Since its establishment more than a year ago, Altos Labs has published important articles on reprogramming and aging in top journals. In the first half of this year, Altos Labs researchers teamed up with international research teams from Spain, China, Japan, the United States and Luxembourg to publish a research paper in the journal Nature.

The study presents a method to isolate senescent cells from mice and demonstrates that these senescent cells cause inflammation and prevent skeletal muscle regeneration even in young mice. This study further supports the idea that removing senescent cells can help fight aging.

Altos Labs’ rich research results are inseparable from its luxurious lineup of scientists.

The company’s CEO is Hal Barron, who was previously the chief scientist of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The board members of Altos Labs are equally dazzling. Currently, four Nobel Prize winners have joined, including Professor David Baltimore, winner of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Professor Shinya Yamanaka, the 2012 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine, and Professor Shinya Yamanaka, the 2018 Nobel Prize winner. Professor Frances Arnold, winner of the Bell Prize in Chemistry, and Professor Jennifer Doudna, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Bezos and Zuckerberg are all gone

It is worth noting that Altos Labs is not Bezos’ first company to invest in this field.

As early as 2016, Bezos invested in an anti-aging company called Unity Biotechnology, founded by an academician in the senescent cell research community. This company is dedicated to removing aging cells from the body, that is, those cells that do not die but secrete Zombie cells, which contain destructive chemicals, were once one of the most promising anti-aging companies in the industry.

However, the results of the Phase II clinical trial of the company’s main product failed, and it immediately optimized its capital allocation and began to focus on treating eye-related diseases caused by aging.

In an email to Amazon shareholders in 2020, Bezos revealed his vision for extending life. He quoted biologist Richard Dawkins: “Avoiding death is what you have to work hard to do. thing. If left to its own devices (such as death), the body tends to return to a state of balance with its environment.”

In addition to Bezos, in recent years, technology giants including Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and the founder of Google have invested heavily in the anti-aging field.

In 2013, Google founder Larry Page invested US$700 million to establish Calico, which is mainly engaged in anti-aging related research to achieve the goal of human longevity and even immortality.

In order to find the answer to immortality, in 2016, Zuckerberg invested US$3 billion to establish the BioHub Biological Center Research Institute, hoping to draw a human “cell map” and find the secret of immortality.

At the end of 2022, Sam Altman, the father of ChatGPT, invested US$180 million in anti-aging research and established an anti-aging technology company called Retro Biosciences, hoping to increase the average human life span by 10 years. Just a year ago, the company was headquartered in a warehouse near San Francisco.

In September this year, German tycoon Christian Angermayer invested in longevity biotechnology company Rejuveron. Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, Rejuveron is currently developing breakthrough therapies targeting aging markers to extend life by solving age-related diseases. The company said the new funds will be used to expand and advance its portfolio of innovative medicines.

Delaying aging has always been an eternal challenge for mankind, and it is also the ultimate goal that the rich are seeking to solve. In this process, capital has also become a key force in the study of “immortality”.

BCG Analysis data shows that investment in the aging field increased by more than 9 times from 2016 to 2022. Some institutions predict that the longevity technology market will reach US$600 billion by 2025.

A report released by Evaluate Pharma, a consulting and market research organization in the global pharmaceutical and health industry, shows that in 2022, a total of US$21.7 billion was invested in the biotechnology field. Among the top 10 companies in terms of financing, most of their efforts are concentrated in anti-aging related fields. Biological reprogramming technology, small molecule drugs, gene therapy, cell therapy and other tracks.

The only Chinese company on the list, Viterilon, is also deeply engaged in the field of “anti-aging”, focusing on aging-related degenerative diseases.

“Cellular anti-aging” leads a new wave

How to effectively intervene in aging?

In the short term, hair transplantation and medical beauty can help companies commercialize as soon as possible, but they are limited to superficial efforts; in the long term, there is more room for imagination in trying to decipher the mysteries of cells. Therefore, technological anti-aging methods such as gene editing and cell therapy are more promising. Worth paying attention to.

Looking at the anti-aging experience of anti-aging rich people, you can almost find the use of stem cell therapy.

In the study of Altos Labs, the research team performed iPS (induced pluripotent stem cells) reprogramming of mouse liver cells to reset the liver cells to a younger state, thereby accelerating liver tissue regeneration and promoting the repair of damaged liver tissue.

Companies such as Life Biosciences, Retro Biosciences, and Rejuvenate Bio also plan to develop cell reprogramming therapies to treat age-related diseases and extend lifespan.

There are also domestic companies doing cell therapy research.

On August 28, 2023, Suzhou Aikeliyuan Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as: Aikeli Biotechnology) announced the completion of a 100 million yuan A++ round of financing. This round of financing was led by Zhiyi Investment and followed by Xihuke Venture Capital.

It is reported that the funds raised will be mainly used for the continued industrialization of super-powered iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells) that have “cleared epigenetic memory”, as well as the clinical advancement of product pipelines for tumors and Parkinson’s disease.

In August 2022, Viterilon announced the completion of a US$200 million Series B financing, with investors including Yunfeng Fund, Temasek, Eight Roads Capital, etc.

The company focuses on the pathogenesis of aging-related degenerative diseases, including research on programmed cell death, neuroprotective pathways, neuroinflammation, etc. The funds raised will be used for the clinical development of receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) inhibitors.

From the perspective of cellular anti-aging, in addition to stem cell therapy, NMN is also the darling of the anti-aging world.

NMN is the precursor of the anti-aging factor NAD+. The working principle of NMN products is simply to increase the synthesis of NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) in the body, thereby achieving anti-aging effects.

In a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, scientists found that oral ingestion of NMN, a NAD+ prerequisite that naturally exists in the body, can effectively increase the NAD+ content in cells, thereby reversing aging.

NMN is also “exploding” among the rich. Li Ka-shing once invested 200 million yuan in the NAD+ precursor NMN, and Buffett also bet on the NAD+ precursor NMN field.

So far, domestic policies have not yet allowed the production and sale of NMN as a health care product, but there are already several listed companies involved in the NMN business, covering raw material providers such as nicotinamide, ATP, and bottled consumables in the upstream of the NMN industry chain.

At the end of last year, the anti-aging biotechnology brand SEIMEI announced the completion of a $4 million Pre-A round of financing. This round of financing was led by BlueFocus. The company mainly targets the high-end nutritional anti-aging market.

Theoretically speaking, cellular anti-aging is very likely to become an important means of prevention and treatment for anti-aging. However, anti-aging is still a serious scientific proposition today. Everything needs to be confirmed by scientific experiments before it can contribute to human health and medicine. The development brings new possibilities.


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