May 16, 2022

Jeff Bezos takes a bet on anti-ageing research

The largest venture capital fundraising in biotech history – US$3 billion – is to be splashed on anti-ageing research.

Backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Israeli-Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner, Altos Labs hopes to unravel the deep biology of cellular rejuvenation programming to restore cell health and resilience and to reverse disease, injury, and disabilities.

Serving on the Altos Board of Directors and advisors are a number of Nobel Laureates, including Japanese stem cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka.

Hal Barron, the new CEO, was formerly the chief scientist for US pharma major GlaxoSmithKline. “It’s clear from work by Shinya Yamanaka, and many others since his initial discoveries, that cells have the ability to rejuvenate, resetting their epigenetic clocks and erasing damage from a myriad of stressors,” he says. “These insights, combined with major advances in a number of transformative technologies, inspired Altos to reimagine medical treatments where reversing disease for patients of any age is possible.”

Although the goal of extending lifespan is the main headline, scientists insist that expectations should not be too high. “This message needs to be clear — it’s not about extending the lifespan,” Vittorio Sebastiano, of Stanford University, told Nature. “What we care about is increasing the healthspan of people … and that you don’t have to live for a long time in a condition of frailty.”