Billionaires Invest Billions in Anti-Ageing Start-ups: The Quest for Immortality

22 December 2023

Jeff Bezos, Sam Altman, and Bryan Johnson are among the billionaires pouring money into unknown companies with the promise of anti-ageing breakthroughs. But is immortality truly within reach?

Throughout history, the wealthy and powerful have sought ways to defy the inevitability of ageing. From gruesome practices like bathing in blood to more recent experiments in gland transplantation, the pursuit of eternal youth has captivated the imaginations of the affluent. Now, a new wave of billionaires is investing billions of dollars into start-ups focused on anti-ageing research. But what are these companies, and can they truly deliver on their promises?

The Age Reversal Pioneer: Bryan Johnson’s Blueprint and Rejuvenation Olympics

Bryan Johnson, a prominent figure in the longevity community, has founded Blueprint, a protocol aimed at promoting longevity, and the Rejuvenation Olympics, a competition-based platform to rank age reversals. Johnson claims to have slowed his own ageing by 31 equivalent years and has invested $2 million annually in his own age reversal efforts. However, his recent attempt at generational plasma exchange yielded no evidence of its effectiveness.

Sam Altman’s Bet on Retro Biosciences

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, has reportedly invested $180 million in Retro Biosciences, a biotech company exploring cellular reprogramming, autophagy, and plasma-inspired therapeutics. Altman’s investment is one of the largest individual investments in the pursuit of human longevity. Retro Biosciences aims to rejuvenate older animals through heterochronic parabiosis, the pairing of animals of different ages.

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Hevolution Foundation: Granting for Health-Span Science

Based in Saudi Arabia, the non-profit organization Hevolution Foundation provides grants and investments to incentivize research in health-span science. With a focus on delaying the ageing process and age-related disorders, Hevolution has partnered with institutions like the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and supports early career researchers through the American Federation of Aging Research.

Calico Labs: Unraveling the Biology of Ageing

Calico Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, is dedicated to understanding the biology that controls ageing and lifespan. Dr Cynthia Kenyon, a prominent researcher at Calico, hypothesizes that lifespan can be controlled by changing genes, akin to evolution. Recent discoveries include potential enhancements in anti-tumour immunity drugs and clinical trials for the treatment of vanishing white matter disease.

Altos Labs: Jeff Bezos’ Cellular Research Venture

Backed by Jeff Bezos, Altos Labs launched with a staggering $3 billion, the largest amount for a start-up. Focused on cellular research, Altos Labs aims to reimagine medical treatments and reverse diseases for patients of any age. While the company claims not to be solely focused on anti-ageing, Bezos’ long-standing interest in the field suggests otherwise.

The Rise and Fall of Ambrosia

Jesse Karmazin’s Ambrosia gained attention for its promise to combat ageing and related diseases through blood plasma infusions from young donors. However, the FDA issued a statement in 2019 cautioning against the use of plasma treatments due to a lack of evidence supporting their therapeutic benefits. Ambrosia was subsequently shut down.

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As billionaires invest billions in unknown companies with the promise of anti-ageing breakthroughs, questions arise about the feasibility and ethics of such endeavors. While these companies share a common focus on longevity, the specifics of their research remain elusive. Critics argue for transparency and collaboration to avoid duplicating efforts. Ultimately, the pursuit of immortality may be a quixotic endeavor. Perhaps the closest we will come is through advancements in AI or computer consciousness, as the human body is not designed to last forever. Only time will tell if these billionaires will be remembered as visionaries or merely eccentric figures in the annals of history.

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