Yuri Milner and Jeff Bezos are reportedly funding Altos Labs, a venture seeking to use biological reprogramming to rejuvenate cells in the lab, animals, and eventually humans.
As reported in the MIT Technology Review, the rejuvenation start-up is recruiting top researchers to work on “unfettered blue-sky research on how cells age and how to reverse that process.” Milner, a billionaire investor and science enthusiast, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos are said to be investing in the venture that has so far brought on Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte from the Salk Institute, UCLA professor Steve Horvath, and Nobel Prize winning scientist Shinya Yamanaka, who will chair the scientific advisory board.
The “effort took shape under the direction of Richard Klausner, the one-time chief of the National Cancer Institute,” who will serve as the CEO. To date, the venture has raised at least $270 million. Technology Review reports that “At least initially, Altos will be funding researchers with no immediate expectation for products or revenues. According to one person briefed by Klausner and Milner, the initial output of the company will be ‘great science.’ ” This is also the modus operandi of SENS Research Foundation, whose focus is on developing the early-stage scientific discoveries that will eventually serve as the foundation for translational therapies in an environment where scientists are empowered to explore novel ideas free from the pressures of products or revenues.
University of Lausanne, Switzerland professor and former Salk lab researcher Alejandro Ocampo expressed reservations about the amount of money and companies in this area of research, however noted that “You can take a cell from an 80-year old and, in vitro, reverse the age by 40 years. There is no other technology that can do that.”
In an effort to measure any rejuvenation effects, Altos will employ epigenetic clocks pioneered by Steve Horvath, critical as measuring the extension of life in animals would otherwise require too much time. As a result “Altos will be working at the leading edge of both causing and measuring rejuvenation.”
SENS Research Foundation welcomes the formation of Altos Labs and hopes that the ever-growing field of Rejuvenation Biotechnology will one day soon realize the possibilities of a vastly extended health-span and vitality of life for all.