What the world is working on to slow aging and increase human healthspan and why?

Updated: Mar 23

One of the advantages of being a tech billionaire is being able to influence the direction and invest in key technology that will benefit humankind. Jeff Bezos is amongst a handful of very wealthy people that are supporting teams looking into how we can slow the aging process. His recent startup, Altos Labs (https://altoslabs.com/) has attracted a remarkable bunch of names associated with numerous breakthroughs in our understanding of cellular aging with the goal, to understand what cellular rejuvenation means, and how we can harness it to help people age better. When significant funding meets a group of thought leaders who have made considerable progress to date then magic is likely to happen.

Jeff Bezos, Google, Peter Thiel, and researchers like Dr David Sinclair, Dr Bryan Kennedy, and Dr Charles Brenner, along with organisations like the National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Aging are involved in solving big questions on how we can slow the aging process.

Why now, and why is so much money being dedicated to this research? Slowing aging is becoming an increasing area of focus as the healthcare paradigm shifts towards understanding that biggest risk of poor health is aging, we now understand that many of the diseases we experience as we move into old age are really a syndrome resulting from the effect of time on our cells and, whilst we have made great progress of these diseases, solving them individually just keeps us alive long enough to accumulate the next one.

If we could understand how to modulate aging at a cellular level then perhaps we wouldn’t experience the diseases of old age until much later in life or even at all. The socioeconomic benefits of cracking the code associated with cellular aging are massive and will save the world trillions of dollars in healthcare, create trillions of dollars of gains in productivity and generally lower the pain and suffering associated with the diseases of old age. It’s a worthy goal and with the level of resource going into the problem and the speed that breakthroughs are happening it’s likely that we will all benefit from the work within most of our lifetimes.

The best strategy right now is to keep your body and mind in as good shape as possible so that when the breakthroughs come that you will be able to benefit to the greatest extent. For those in their 30s and below you are likely to benefit before you start to see the deficits in cellular health that older age brings. For the rest of us then it’s a matter of following the longevity protocols that I outline in my book and start to take supplements and even medicines that are showing promise in slowing down the effect of age on our cells. Ingredients like Hobamine, a new molecule that slows the irreversible damage that occurs to our cells from oxidative stress, NAD boosting compounds like NR and NMN to restore this key enzyme that is involved in over 500 processes in the cell but declines with age, supplementing with alpha-ketoglutarate to slow the onset of frailty, taking a senolytic formula that lowers the inflammatory burden that comes from the increasing levels of senescent (aka Zombie cells) in our body with age are all new tools that will enable you to minimize and even reverse the effect of age on our cells.

For those that want to be more aggressive in their approach there are medical interventions like hyperbaric oxygen therapy, plasma exchange therapy, minicircle DNA treatment and anti-aging medicines like rapamycin are all available today, at a price of course, to people interested in investing in treatments that are still being investigated for their effect on slowing aging. To date the only treatment that has been shown to unequivocally slow aging in every organism it has been tried on is rapamycin. Rapamycin has extended life in yeast, mice, dogs, primates and is currently being evaluated in humans. Rapamycin is a drug that is most known as an immunosuppressant for use in those that have had organ transplants to lower the risk of organ rejection. It turns out that rapamycin, when administered with the correct protocol, makes the body think that it is calorie restricted and, in the process, activates key longevity pathways in the cell that supports an extended life and healthspan. Over the next decade or so, researchers will identify the optimal protocols for humans, and we will all get the opportunity to benefit from what will likely be the first of many molecules that will slow and even reverse aging at a cellular level.

Perhaps dying of old age will eventually be something we all get to experience much later and the period of our lives where we are generally in good health shifts from the current average of 63 right out to beyond 100 or even further. One thing is for sure, as a species, we have an amazing track record for establishing new technology, new understandings and translating that to the benefit of us all. Radically extending health and lifespans is not a matter of if, just a matter of when.