Peter Thiel is among the big names with big money that are investing billions in trying to come up with a way to cure aging!
Thiel, the entrepreneur behind PayPal, was an early investor in Unity Biotechnology, which is devising therapeutics to delay aging-related diseases at the cellular level.
Thiel is not the only billionaire that has recently been ascribed the title of “immoralist.”
Larry Ellison — chairman of the software giant Oracle — has donated around $500,000 to antiaging research. Google co-founder Larry Page helped fund Calico, a lab that describes itself as wanting “to better understand the biology that controls aging and life span.”
Nir Barzilai, author of “Age Later” and director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was one of the first to identify these high-profile anti-agers as “immoralists” – people he describes as those who believe death is an option, rather than an eventuality — given the right “biohacks” and enough money to throw at them.
Because of that, “we expect $4.5 billion to be invested [in life- and health-extending science] this year alone,” he recently told The NY Post.
Barzilai is impressed with the ambitions of the immoralists, but he takes a somewhat more measured approach to antiaging, “Living forever might not be in the cards, at least for now, but we are working on specific solutions to specific problems that will increase life span and healthspan,” or how long one stays healthy for.
However, Thiel and the others truly believe in the possibilism of living upwards of 5,000 years or even, as he recently told the New Yorker, “forever.” It’s the kind of thinking that gets money funneled into experiments such as the one conducted by researchers at the National Academy of Medicine’s Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge, in which an old mouse and a young one were surgically connected so that they shared blood, resulting in the oldster becoming youthful.
A similar study, done by researchers at Stanford University and the University of California San Francisco, showed a turnaround in cognitive aging and better memory in elder mice that were injected with the plasma of younger ones.
If Thiel and many of the planet’s other richest men have their way, prolonging life and curtailing deadly diseases may be no more pie-in-the-sky than home computers were in the 1940s.
And some of the world’s top scientists are working right alongside them.
David Sinclair, author of “Lifespan,” who heads up labs at Harvard Medical School and University of New South Wales in Australia, is a diehard believer in extended lifespans. “By the turn of the next century, a person who is 122 on the day of his or her death may be said to have lived a full, though not particularly long, life,” he wrote in his book. Living until 150 “may not be out of reach.”
In the not-too-distant future, he predicts, age-reversing injections, laced with a small number of “reprogramming genes,” will be administered to people who turn 30 and be made to kick in 15 years later: “Gray hair would disappear. Wounds would heal faster. Wrinkles would fade, like the fictional Benjamin Button, you will feel 35 again, then 30, then 25.”
For now, though, Sinclair is focused on a potential aging culprit, the epigenome, which is made up of chemical compounds and proteins that can attach to DNA and direct it. As he explained to Popular Mechanics, the epigenome turns genes on and off, but it loses information as we age. Sinclair likens the degeneration to “a scratch on a CD.” He said, “I think it stops cells from reading the right genes.”
While working to fix that life-altering glitch, Sinclair tries to stave off his own aging with more accessible tricks. He takes a regimen of vitamins (including D and K, the latter believed to keep bones healthy) and medications such as Metformin, which is clinically prescribed for Type 2 diabetes but also appears to reduce incidents of other aging-related diseases.
Critics say that it is pure ego and a quest for immortality that is driving these tech giants to pour so much of their fortunes into defeating disease and death. That’s as maybe, but the research they are funding may eventually help all of humanity, and who can take issue with that?