One expert said a pill that could help a person reverse the effects of aging could be on the market in the next five years.
Sam Altman, 37, was revealed to have funded biotech startup Retro BioScience with $180 million last month. He is the latest in a long line of Silicon Valley billionaires who are pouring their vast fortunes into gerontology.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos reportedly invested $3 billion in life extension startup Altos Labs. Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, has invested in the Methuselah Foundation, which aims to create a “New 90/50”.
And all these resources are being thrown into the treatment of aging, according to Andrew Steele, author of the 2020 book Ageless: The new science of get older without getting older,” says anti-aging pills could be on drugstore shelves within five years.
He points to existing drugs, such as metformin in the diabetes pill, that could be retooled as anti-aging drugs in the very near future.
Steele said: “With these billionaires, I’m sure some of them are doing it purely for personal gain – they have money they can’t spend in a single human lifetime. But if you’re a smart investor, you can see that anti-aging drugs are a huge business opportunity because the potential market is every living person. I think this is going to be the biggest medical revolution since antibiotics, and as a savvy businessman, you want to be at the forefront of that revolution.”
Although aging does not directly kill people, older people are at risk for many deadly diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and cancer.
According to the World Health Organization, about 100,000 people die every day from age-related diseases.
“Aging is the greatest human problem of all time,” Steele says. He explained that there are 20 to 30 companies developing new drugs known as “senolytics” that kill aging cells in the body.
In mice, these drugs suddenly make older animals alert and healthy.
“Many of these drugs are drugs that we already know and use for different purposes, so we don’t need to develop new drugs,” Steele said.
Metformin is a potential anti-aging drug. It was first approved in 1994 for type 2 diabetes, promising to prolong life by improving blood vessel health.
And when Altos Labs was announced, Elon Musk joked on Twitter: “If this doesn’t work, he will sue to death!”
And with labs open in America and Cambridge, the company is known for paying scientists caught in the world’s top universities up to $1 million a year.
In fact, Steele says, the treatment we’re likely to see in the near future will prolong the “health period” by combating age-related diseases, delaying the onset of problems like dementia.
Dr Cathy Slack, a biologist at Aston University in the UK, agrees: “The goal is to increase the number of years of healthy life, not to prolong later life in ill health.”
She said there are now “many” studies published that show genetic or environmental changes can increase healthy life expectancy.
Slack believes that successful treatment will likely consist of a combination of medications and lifestyle changes, and will comprehensively address all diseases that affect people later in life.
Source: Daily Mail
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