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Companies aim to extend life-span by over a decade

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 8 months ago

In the quest for eternal youth, scientists and investors have been exploring ways to extend human lifespans. While this pursuit has historically been fruitless, recent scientific breakthroughs have given rise to a number of start-up companies with big-name backers like Jeff Bezos. These companies are making strides in uncovering new biological mechanisms that they believe can lead to drugs capable of increasing human longevity by at least a decade.

One promising approach involves partially reprogramming the epigenome, which controls gene expression. The goal is to reverse the damage caused by environmental factors and age-related diseases like obesity and diabetes. However, there is a major challenge in designing clinical trials to prove the effectiveness of anti-aging drugs. To demonstrate that a drug extends lives, a company would need to study healthy 70-year-olds for a decade or longer, comparing those on the drug to a placebo group. This would require a minimum of 20,000 subjects and could cost around $2 billion.

The FDA would likely set a high bar for safety and efficacy in such a study, as the drug would be tested on relatively healthy individuals who are entering an age when they become more susceptible to various diseases. The FDA's caution is justified, as the approval of a drug that later shows major side effects would have unprecedented consequences. Additionally, convincing payers to reimburse for such a drug would be a challenge, as it would likely command a high price and eligibility criteria would need to be established.

Despite these challenges, companies are investing in anti-aging research and development. However, their initial focus will be on testing drugs against age-related diseases rather than conducting life extension studies. For example, one company is working on using epigenome reprogramming to treat strokes that occur in the back of the eye. While this is a welcome development, it is far from adding a decade to the life expectancy of Baby Boomers.

So, while there may be hype around scientific breakthroughs offering the promise of the "Fountain of Youth," it will likely be a long time before such drugs are available to the public. These companies are aware of the challenges they face and are taking a cautious approach by first targeting age-related diseases.

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