As the world faces COVID-19, there is a second pandemic killing everyone … it’s called aging.
And for the first time ever, scientists and entrepreneurs think there’s a way to slow aging in its tracks, and perhaps even reverse it.
In this blog, we’ll do a quick review of the cutting-edge tech that gives me tremendous hope that we can add a healthy 20 or 30 years onto our healthspan, ultimately making 100 years old the “new 60.”
COVID-19 Comparison: As of today, there have been nearly 6.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, and since its initial outbreak, COVID-19 has now become the recorded cause of about 371,000 deaths.
To put this in context, approximately 7.8 billion people are alive today, roughly 9 percent of which are over the age of 65 and suffering from the deadliest disease on Earth: Aging.
Without competition, aging is the #1 correlated variable when it comes to deaths due to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, respiratory disease and dementia. In effect, 9 percent of the population equates to 720 million confirmed cases of aging. And even then, this is an extraordinarily conservative estimate as many people begin experiencing the effects of aging in their 50s.
Despite these figures, the world is only just beginning to recognize aging as a disease. So far, no one has recovered from this disease in the history of humanity, and barring fundamental scientific breakthroughs, you can confidently assume it will take your life.
As a society today, we simply accept that aging (and death) are a part of life, but there is nothing that says our lives can’t be significantly extended.
Many species on Earth live far longer lives… The Bowhead whale can reach 200 years of age, while the Greenland Shark and Sea Turtles can make it to more than 400 years.
If they can, why can’t we? Clearly, it is either a hardware or a software problem, both of which are within the grasp of our understanding, and soon within reach of our modification… using treatments such as gene therapy, CRISPR, and cell therapies, just to name a few.
If you haven’t read Lifespan by Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard Medical School (I strongly recommend it), he gives a host of compelling evidence to show there is no reason people born today cannot live to at least 120 in healthy condition, if not 150 and beyond.
As scientists and entrepreneurs race to unlock and rewire the biology of aging, here are some key technologies you can track today to extend your healthspan, i.e. the amount of time you have to live a healthy, functional life, avoiding expensive, bed-ridden, end-of-life care.
Here is the list that I’m tracking (and am excited about):
- CRISPR & Gene Therapy
- Stem Cell Therapy
- Wnt Pathway Manipulation
- Senolytic Medicines
Let’s dive into the data behind each of these treatments.
(1) CRISPR & Gene Therapy: Why does cheaper, faster genomic sequencing matter? It’s a healthcare gamechanger.
Aging is ultimately the dis-regulation or breakdown of the cells in our body. Consider that there are a few main ways to repair such situations. “Gene Therapy” is one such technology that effectively inserts a gene into specific cells in your body, effectively repairing the instruction set that is corrupted or missing. A second technique called CRISPR-Cas9 allows you to edit (think cut and paste) the DNA sequence inside your cells.
CRISPR-Cas9, for example, has become our leading weapon in the fight against genetic diseases. Technically, it’s an engineering tool that allows us to target precise locations in the gene code and then rewrite that DNA.
Want to remove the string of DNA that produces muscular dystrophy? Simple. Just target that spot in the genome, unleash CRISPR-Cas9, and snip, snip, snip-problem solved.
More importantly, CRISPR is cheap, fast, and getting easier to use. Most recently, scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard unveiled CRISPR 2.0, a next-generation editor that’s extremely precise. It can target and change a single letter in a single string of DNA.
What good is a single letter out of 3.2 billion?
As explained by David Liu, the Harvard chemical biologist who ld thee work, “of more than 50,000 genetic changes currently known to be associated with disease in humans […] 32,000 of those are caused by the simple swap of one base pair for another.”
(2) Stem Cell Therapy: Each of us is a collection of over 30 trillion human cells. Every one of these cells, those in your brain, lungs, liver, skin, and everywhere else, are derived from a single pluripotent type of cell called a stem cell.
When we are young, our bodies are teeming with stem cells that can replace any damaged tissue. They are the restorative engines of our bodies, helping us repair damage. But as we age, the number of stem cells in our tissues and blood stream can reduce 100X or 1,000X, making repair much more difficult.
But what if we could “restore our body’s rejuvenative engine,” our stem cell population? What if we could take stem cells from the human placenta, an organ whose stem cells actually “form” the fetus, and augment your current stem cell population?
Celularity (a company founded by stem cell pioneer Bob Hariri and myself), for instance, has now demonstrated that placental-derived stem cells given to animals can extend life up to 30 percent. Showing incredible promise, Celularity now aims to make this approach viable in humans, harnessing stem cells to amplify the body’s ability to fight disease and heal itself.
(3) Wnt Pathway Manipulation: An incredible company based in San Diego, called Samumed, is now targeting the signaling pathways that regulate the self-renewal and differentiation of adult stem cells, a pathway known as “wnt.”
In animal studies, as well as Phase-1 and Phase-2 human clinical trials, their drugs (small molecules) have been shown to regrow cartilage, heal tendons, remove wrinkles, and, by the way, stop a multitude of cancers and reverse Alzheimer’s. This also explains why Samumed, a company still in stealth mode, has a $12 billion valuation.
Samumed has developed nine different so-called “regenerative medicines.” All are in the FDA’s pipeline, including everything from hair-loss treatments to Alzheimer’s drugs.
(4) Senolytic Medicines: Over the arc of your life, the cells in your body divide until they reach what is known as the Hayflick limit, or the number of times a normal human cell population will divide before cell division stops, which is typically about 50 divisions.
What normally follows next is programmed cell death or destruction by the immune system.
A very small fraction of cells, however, become ‘senescent cells,’ evading this fate to linger indefinitely. These lingering cells secrete a potent mix of molecules that triggers chronic inflammation, damages the surrounding tissue structures, and changes the behavior of nearby cells for the worse.
Senescent cells appear to be one of the root causes of aging, causing everything from fibrosis and blood vessel calcification to localized inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and diminished lung function.
Fortunately, scientific and entrepreneurial communities alike have begun to work on senolytic therapies, driving forward technologies that selectively destroy senescent cells out of the laboratory and into a half-dozen startup companies.
One such prominent company in the field is Unity Biotechnology, which is developing senolytic medicines to selectively eliminate senescent cells with an initial focus on delivering localized therapy in osteoarthritis, ophthalmology and pulmonary disease.
Final Thoughts & Join Me
Beyond these four areas above, there are countless other therapeutics and approaches ranging from metformin, NAD boosters, rapalogs, and GDF-11 to a new generation of AI/Machine Learning-enhanced molecules being discovered.
In success, longevity and vitality therapies are a *trillion-dollar* industry, and today’s smartest scientists, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are investing in its boom.
Leading the charge are three major “HOT SPOTS” for Longevity startups… (1) The Bay Area; (2) San Diego; and (3) Boston.
This August 19–23, 2020 and September 16–20, 2020, I’m taking two groups of individuals on what I call my “Platinum Longevity & Immunity Trip,” visiting two of these hot spots: San Francisco & San Diego.
Each trip will be a 5-Star (luxury) deep dive to meet 20+ companies and 30+ scientists/physicians and entrepreneurs who are leading the charge against age-related diseases and extending the human healthspan. We will also be visiting the top labs and scientists developing the diagnostics, anti-virals, vaccines and therapeutics fighting COVID-19.
Both trips are identical (with only 24 participants per trip). I will spend all 5-days with you as your private guide and provocateur. Through this personalized, action-packed program, my mission is to give you first-hand exposure to the major players, scientists, companies and treatments in the longevity and vitality arena. All your questions answered. Early access to cutting-edge treatments and products. And a behind-the scenes view of tomorrow’s longevity revolution.
Both trips are nearly sold out. To learn more and lock in your seat, visit our website here and schedule a call with Claire Adair, my program manager, to learn more.
(1) Abundance 360 CEO Summit: If you’re an entrepreneur, CEO, owner of a company ranging in size from $1M to $1B+, consider joining my personal Mastermind called Abundance360 ( www.a360.com). Click here to learn more.
(2) Join FutureLoop: Over the past 2 years, I’ve built a machine-learning algorithm that scrapes the world’s news, science journals and social feeds every day to understand how exponential technologies are impacting specific topics & industries. It’s called FutureLoop.
Last month, I launched “FutureLoop Pandemic Special Edition,” a daily comprehensive update on the impact of exponential technologies (AI, Robotics, Drones, Cellular Medicine, CRISPR, Networks & Sensors) on the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you participate, FutureLoop will update you every day on the latest breakthroughs in detection, prevention & cure of the COVID-19. This product is still in Beta, but it’s powerful, high-quality info, and it’s free.
Your mindset is your most important tool during this pandemic. Making sure you are consuming the right information is critical to maintaining that mindset. FutureLoop offers “Data-Driven Optimism.”
You can subscribe here. It’s free, fun + fast (20 seconds).
(A360 is part of Singularity University — your participation opens you to a global community.)
Originally published at https://www.diamandis.com.