As a strong believer in the potential for Life Extension Technologies to extend and enhance healthy lifespan and change the face of ageing; I was very excited to read a recent article in the prestigious U.K. newspaper “The Guardian” which explains a growing interest and commitment amongst Silicon Valley’s billionaire entrepreneurs to fund and take a close personal interest in the research and development of technology and drugs designed to increase our understanding of the biology of human lifespan and to enable people to live longer healthier lives.
These brilliant individuals, who have made personal fortunes from the computer and internet revolutions, have understood the importance and potential opportunity of life extension technology – using the power of human genomics, DNA sequencing technologies, stem cell advances and nanotechnology to solve the diseases associated with ageing.
They are utilising the growing power of computer technology – the new science of “Informatics” – to work with digital information to gather, use, store, retrieve, and visualise information and data – to undertake research and solve problems that would have previously required an army of people and many years, in a fraction of the time, and at a fraction of the cost.
Here Are 4 Great Examples
The Guardian article lists a number of examples of Silicon Valley Billionaires making significant investments in life extension research and technology. I have summarised what I believe are the 4 stand-out examples below:
1. In September 2013 the co-founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced the creation of Calico.
Calico’s website describes its mission as follows:
“Calico (California Life Sciences LLC) is a Google-founded research and development company whose mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan. We will use that knowledge to devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives.”
Google appointed Arthur Levinson as chief executive officer of Calico. Levinson served as chief executive officer of Genentech from July 1995 to April 2009, is currently chairman of the board of Apple, and previously served as a director of Google from 2004 to 2009. Levinson brought with him a highly experienced senior management team.
In September 2014 Calico announced a “novel R&D collaboration” with AbbVie a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company saying “AbbVie and Calico may co-invest up to $1.5 billion, utilizing Calico’s discovery and early development capabilities and AbbVie’s broad research, development, and commercial expertise to advance innovative new therapies”
Hal Barron, M.D., President of Research and Development at Calico said “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the many outstanding scientists at AbbVie to ensure that the important science at Calico is advanced quickly to benefit patients,”
This collaboration has the potential to fast track the development and availability of products and technologies that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives
2. In March 2014 Biochemist/Entrepreneur Craig Venter and Tech Entrepreneur Peter Diamandis announced the creation of a new company called Human Longevity Inc.
Craig Venter is a biochemist, geneticist, and entrepreneur, known for being one of the first to sequence the human genome. He formed the J. Craig Venter Institute (JVCI) in October 2006 through the merger of several affiliated and legacy organizations, into one large multidisciplinary genomic-focused organisation. JCVI is a world leader in genomic research.
Dr. Peter H. Diamandis is an international pioneer in the fields of innovation, incentive competitions and commercial space. In 2014 he was named one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”– by Fortune Magazine
The headline on the home page of humanlongevity.com states that:
“Aging is the single biggest risk factor for virtually every significant human disease……our goal is to extend and enhance the healthy, high-performance lifespan and change the face of aging. For the first time, the power of human genomics, informatics, next generation DNA sequencing technologies, and stem cell advances are being harnessed in one company, Human Longevity Inc., with the leading pioneers in these fields. Our goal is to solve the diseases of aging by changing the way medicine is practiced.
It’s not just a long life we’re striving for, but one which is worth living.”
According to the company’s website – About Page “HLI is building the world’s most comprehensive database on human genotypes and phenotypes to tackle the diseases associated with aging-related human biological decline.”
Writing about the proposed database, The Guardian reported Venter as saying “ that data should shed important new light on what makes for a longer, healthier life, and (he) expects others working on life extension to use his database’
3. Billionaire Larry Ellison, a co-founder of “Oracle” founded the “Ellison Medical Foundation” in 1997.
According to The Guardian “The Foundation has been the field’s largest private funder, spending $45m annually.”
The following extracts from the Ellison Medical Foundation website provide a good overview of what they are working towards in regard to ageing and related diseases:
“The Ellison Medical Foundation supports basic biomedical research, with a current focus on understanding how humans and other organisms age, and on defining the fundamental biological mechanisms that prevent age-related diseases and disabilities.
About the Ellison Foundation’s Aging Program
The world’s 60-and-over population increased by more than 12 million persons in 1995 alone, reaching a total of 550 million.
By the year 2025, 1.2 billion people will be 60 or older. Improvements in health care and disease prevention have the potential to create economic benefit to, and to dramatically improve the quality of life of, millions of individuals. Significant breakthroughs in understanding the basic biological processes that underlie aging and age-related diseases are the best hope we have for achieving genuine prevention or amelioration of age-related debilitation and disease.”
4. The final example I will include in this article is Peter Thiel.
According to the Guardian, Peter Thiel “The PayPal co-founder and Facebook’s first investor, recently told Bloomberg Television he took human growth hormone (HGH) as part of his regime to reach 120 (there is no evidence it works and it can even cause harm). He also follows a Paleo diet, doesn’t eat sugar, drinks red wine and runs regularly. He has given more than $6m to Aubrey de Grey’s Sens Foundation, dedicated to extending the human lifespan.
In a recent interview he identified three main ways to approach death. “You can accept it, you can deny it or you can fight it. I think our society is dominated by people who are into denial or acceptance, and I prefer to fight it.”
For those of you who don’t know, a Paleo diet is basically the natural food our ancestors lived on.
What is Motivating Tech Entrepreneurs to Invest in Life Extension Research?
According to The Guardian article, “Three reasons reckons Patrick McCray, a historian of modern technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
First, if you had that much money wouldn’t you want to live longer to enjoy it?
Then there is money to be made in them there hills.
But last, and what he thinks is the heart of the matter, is ideology.
If your business and social world is oriented around the premise of “disruptive technologies”, what could be more disruptive than slowing down or “defeating” ageing?
Coupled to this is the idea that if you have made your billions in an industry sector that is based on precise careful control of 0s and 1s, why not imagine you could extend this to the control of atoms and molecules?,” he says.”
These 3 points make perfect sense to me, although I would make the following additional comment:
– These men are all “futurists” they don’t just follow technological trends and innovations, they create them as well. They have seen the massive potential that the life-extension niche has, they have done their research and as it makes sense, they have just gone for it. Thats why they are so successful, and
– Being visionaries and wealthy, they are also naturally Philanthropists – they care about humanity, and are grateful for what they have.
My parting thought – I believe that this increased interest and investment in “life and health extending technologies and treatments” from such successful and well-known entrepreneurs, is a major breakthrough that will not only reduce the timescale for those things to become generally available, but will also increase public awareness and interest in this topic.
These hugely successful entrepreneurs are legends that engender great respect and attention from people of all age-groups.
You can read the Original Article by clicking this link The Guardian Article
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