Startups Doing Their Best To Extend Human Longevity
The last few decades have seen an explosion of startups, young mission-driven companies founded by entrepreneurs to develop and bring to the market unique products or services. Startups want to give society something we need but that hasn’t been created yet. Think for example about AirBnb, Uber or even Angry Birds. Three new services that didn’t exist 50 years ago, and now we can’t live without them. And what else may our society need? With this article, we would like to introduce you to some of the startups that are currently working to extend human longevity with impressive results.
Is it possible to extend human longevity?
“There is a high probability that the first person to live to a thousand has already been born” says Dr. Aubrey de Grey. He is a biomedical gerontologist and one of the chief proponents of research utilising genomics to explore longevity. He and the SENS Research Foundation (that he co-founded) have a mission: defeating ageing via medical damage reply. De Grey is very positive about the possibility of greatly extending human longevity in the next decades.
We don’t know how long it will take. But at Tomorrow Biostasis we too believe that eventually medical technology will be able to treat the effects of aging. And like us, many other startups are confident that, by investing in R&D, we will soon be able to extend human lifespan. If you think about it, longevity has changed a lot over time, with life expectancy increasing continuously. We believe that there is no logical reason why this trend should stop.
A good place to look at, when searching for longevity tech startups, is definitely Silicon Valley. Altos Labs is their very promising newbie. Founded in 2021 and financed by billionaires such as Jeff Bezos (Amazon ex-CEO) and Yuri Milne, it is “Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever,” according to MIT’s Technology Review. To do so, they have been hiring some of the best scientists in the world, one being the notable Spanish biologist Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte. Through research, Altos Labs’ scientists want to understand the process of rejuvenation. And to do so they are investing hundreds of millions of dollars. Their final aim is to reprogram cells and ultimately extend human longevity.
While Altos Labs is quite a new startup, Calico Labs is probably one of the most known longevity companies of Silicon Valley. Founded in 2013 by Google, with a starting investment of 2.5 billion, Calico Labs is presented as an anti-aging R&D company. Their mission is to “harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan”. Basically, they are using state-of-the-art technologies to understand exactly how aging and related diseases work. The knowledge obtained will be used to develop interventions that enable people to live longer and healthier lives.
Moving now to the East Coast, Longevica is a biotech and science driven startup we should keep an eye on. As the startups mentioned before, its main purpose is to find the mechanisms to extend human longevity. To do so they have spent over a decade studying 20,000 long-lived female mice to find pharmaceutical compounds correlated with life-extension. Their research was successful and the 5 compounds found turned into valid hypotheses regarding 2 mechanisms of life extension. Longevica is now working on supplements for food and drugs to put their findings into practice.
TreeFrog Therapeutics is a stem cell company founded in 2018 in Bordeaux, France. Their motto is “Cell Therapy for All” and their mission is to provide access to safe, efficient and affordable cell treatments to treat chronic or degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, diabetes or age-related macular degeneration (diseases that still have no cure). To do so, they are working on developing C-Stem, a biomimetic cell culture technology allowing the mass production of pluripotent stem cells: self-replicating cells which can form and grow any part of the human body. According to their website, TreeFrog technology is expected to be used on humans by 2024.
Founded in 2017 in Brisbane, Australia, Mammoth Biosciences is a CRISPR-based biotech startup. Studying strands of DNA and RNA with molecular-level accuracy, Mammoth is creating a platform that can detect diseases by seeking nucleic acids. This platform will make it possible to cut and edit DNA. By making disease detection accessible and affordable for all, they will not only address challenges across healthcare and allow people to treat their illnesses and live longer. Fields such as agriculture, environmental monitoring and biodefense will also benefit from their discoveries.
Juvenescence is a UK biopharmaceutical startup founded in 2016 by Jim Mellon, billionaire British businessman and philanthropist. Their team of highly experienced scientists, drug developers, entrepreneurs and investors is developing therapeutics that slow down aging, promoting juvenescence (“the state of being young”). Their main product, called Metabolic Switch, contains ketones, byproducts of the breakdown of fatty acids that our body normally creates during times of starvation or fasting. Researchers at Juvenescence are uncovering the mechanisms and exploring ways that ketones and ketosis may extend health and longevity. Will ketones be our receipt for longevity?
Proscia is a startup founded in 2014 in Philadelphia, focusing on finding solutions for pathologies such as cancer. Pathology has been generally unchanged for 150 years. Thanks to Proscia, we are witnessing a switch to Digital Pathology, that will use AI-powered softwares to understand cancer better and develop lifesaving cancer treatments. Health-care professionals will have at their disposal new essential data that was not previously visible to the human eye.
Nuritas is an Irish startup founded in 2014, with offices in Dublin and Boston.
Their goal is to improve human life utilizing natural peptides, short chains of amino acids (basically smaller versions of proteins) present in food. Nuritas utilizes AI to process molecular data and discover bioactive peptides with extraordinary active health benefits. These peptides can be used in food supplements and new drugs. Each peptide addresses a specific area including muscle health, anti-inflammation, gut health, skin care, glucose management and food preservation. With hundreds of years of cumulative research behind, Nuritas is a clear example of how much we can learn by observing nature.
Founded by three scientists in 2018, Fauna Bio is a biotechnology startup. As Nuritas mentioned above, Fauna Bio has been looking at nature to develop new ways to treat diseases such as heart conditions, cancers, respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. More precisely, they have been analyzing genomes from hibernating animals. Hibernating animals survive under extreme conditions, possessing mechanisms of self-healing and tissue repair to endure long periods of time in freezing temperatures without food. The final goal of their studies is to develop innovative, fast, and efficient drugs that treat some of humankind’s most vexing diseases.
Last but not least, Tomorrow Biostasis is one of these startups doing their best to extend human longevity. Founded in 2018 in Berlin, Germany by Dr. Emil Kendziorra and Fernando Azevedo Pinheiro, Tomorrow Biostasis is the first Life Extension Foundation in Europe. Tomorrow, as the other cryonics companies, took inspiration from a special ability animals have, called Biostasis. This term refers to a state of suspended animation, in which all metabolic processes are suspended, allowing the animal to face challenges in the environment (such as extreme cold or heat). Similarly, Tomorrow Biostasis can cryopreserve its patients after their legal death using state-of-the-art technologies. Pausing their biological processes through vitrification and giving them a chance to live, in the future, with an extended life.
Think about it. People alive today, suffering from diseases that are still incurable (like cancer and aging) may never never be able to benefit from the discoveries these longevity startups are currently working on. Because of this, the only option they have if they want a chance to live longer, is to choose cryopreservation. To conserve their bodies in a biological pause until the day these diseases will be curable. And finally, live a “second life”.
In the pre-modern world, life expectancy was around 30 years. Since then, the global average life expectancy has more than doubled and is now above 70 years. We believe that this number will increase in the future, thanks to new medical discoveries and the work of the startups we presented in this article. We expect that diseases that are today untreatable will be treatable and that we will be able to live longer and healthier lives. But we know that these discoveries may not happen during our lifespan. And this is why we are working on pushing Biostasis’ technology forward.