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Silicon Valley’s billionaires want to hack the ageing process

Demographics and population updates

The writer is a scientific commentator

The dream of a millionaire is noteworthy. Their ultimate travel solution isn’t a luxury round-the-world trip, but in the case of Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, a ride to the edge of space, albeit as a promotional stunt for their respective commercial space ventures.

And when it comes to staying young, flocking and facelift are no longer enough. Would you like to hack the aging process and postpone death? That’s the prospect behind Altos Labs, a Silicon Valley company that poached some of the most famous scientists in the field of aging. Amazon founder Bezos is one of the reported backers. The other is Yuri Milner, a billionaire tech investor who has set a breakthrough prize with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and others. Up to six awards, worth $ 3 million each, will be awarded across life sciences, basic physics, and mathematics, making them the most profitable individual gongs for science (Nobel Prizes of over $ 1 million each). Worth it).

Few researchers will refuse unlimited funding with some ties and stunning salaries. Among those confirmed by MIT Technology Review to participate in Altos, which is planning laboratories in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan, the University of California, Los Angeles, has developed a molecular biomarker for aging, now known as “Horvathclock.” There is Professor Steve Horvath of the school. “. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University becomes an unpaid Altos advisor.

Like Horvath, his name has entered the state-of-the-art biology glossary. He won the 2012 Nobel Prize for identifying four proteins now known as the “Yamanaka Factor”. When these elements are added to a cell, it is surprisingly possible for the cell to regress and acquire the coveted malleability of immature cells. The discovery was used by Manuel Serrano of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences in Barcelona. Manuel Serrano applied this technique to individual cells rather than to individual cells. For the entire mouse, The results are mixed.

Serrano is also jumping the ship to a new venture dedicated to “reprogramming” the cell into a younger state. Despite the blue sky mantra, the ultimate goal is to discover the youth fountain. Aging is one of the most difficult biological problems to crack, but the fact that parents with old cells can give birth to young babies means that nature has already mastered cell reprogramming. is showing.

We inherit the genetic material from our parents. It wipes out age-related changes after fertilization and resembles the original genetic source code. Emulating the process in the laboratory is not easy. Serrano mice treated with Benjamin Button, inspired by the mountains, showed signs of youthful rejuvenation, but also developed teratomas. These are rare tumors that contain multiple types of tissue, such as teeth, hair, and muscle, suggesting that reprogramming can awaken the genes responsible for cancer.

Rowan Hooper, who turned from an evolutionary biologist to a science writer, covered Silicon Valley’s obsession with longevity in his book. How to spend trillion dollars.. He points out that Google’s Calico and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Zuckerberg and his wife, doctor Priscilla Chan, share a view of Altos’ aging.

Given that universal health insurance is a fairer way, Hooper has mixed feelings about competition for eternal youth. Extend life: “In many ways this looks like Silicon Valley’s arrogance. Indeed, the idea that a millionaire will live forever while the planet is flying doesn’t feel like a happy result. No. But Altos is recruiting world-class scientists to fund the rest of the science and medicine spillover research without having to provide life’s eternity right away. “

PayPal’s Peter Thiel once described death as a problem to solve. Given the existential challenges of climate change, it can sometimes feel as if the ultra-rich are living on another planet.

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