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Billionaires quest for immortality

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Post by Abacus Thu Oct 21, 2021 11:32 pm

(January 6, 2015) Surprise! With $60 Million Genentech Deal, 23andMe Has A Business Plan
A deal being announced today with Genentech points the way for 23andMe,
the personal genetics company backed by Facebook billionaire Yuri Milner and Google Ventures
to become a sustainable business – even if the company’s discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stretch on for years.
Such deals, which make use of the database created by customers who have bought 23andMe’s DNA test kits and donated their genetic and health data
for research, could be a far more significant opportunity than 23andMe’s primary business of selling the DNA kits to consumers.
Since it was founded in 2006, 23andMe has collected data from 800,000 customers and it sells its tests for $99 each.
That means this single deal with one large drug company could generate almost as much revenue as doubling 23andMe’s customer base.
“I think that this illustrates how pharma companies are interested in the fact that we have a massive amount of information,” says Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe’s chief executive and co-founder.
Wojcicki and her husband Sergey Brin (the two are now separated) have been very public about their desire to understand Parkinson’s, which runs in Brin’s family.
forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2015/01/06/surprise-with-60-million-genentech-deal-23andme-has-a-business-plan/

(January 11, 2015) Live for ever: Scientists say they’ll soon extend life ‘well beyond 120’
Fixing the ‘problem’ of ageing is the mission of Silicon Valley, where billions is pouring into biotech firms working to ‘hack the code’ of life
– despite concerns about the social implications. In September 2013 Google announced the creation of Calico, short for the California Life Company.
Its mission is to reverse engineer the biology that controls lifespan and “devise interventions that enable people to lead longer
and healthier lives”. Though much mystery surrounds the new biotech company, it seems to be looking in part to develop age-defying drugs.
In April 2014 it recruited Cynthia Kenyon, a scientist acclaimed for work that included genetically engineering roundworms to live up to six times longer than normal,
and who has spoken of dreaming of applying her discoveries to people. In March 2014, pioneering American biologist and technologist Craig Venter
– along with the tech entrepreneur founder of the X Prize Foundation, Peter Diamandis – announced a new company called Human Longevity Inc.
It isn’t aimed at developing anti-ageing drugs or competing with Calico, says Venter. But it plans to create a giant database of 1 million human genome sequences by 2020, including from supercentenarians.
In an office not far from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, with a beard reaching almost to his navel, Aubrey de Grey is enjoying the new buzz about defeating ageing.
theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/11/-sp-live-forever-extend-life-calico-google-longevity

(April 4, 2015) Tech titans’ latest project: Defy death
Seated at the head of a table for 12 with a view of the city's soaring skyline, Peter Thiel
was deep in conversation with his guests, eclectic scientists whose research was considered radical, even heretical.
Among the guests was Cynthia Kenyon, a molecular biologist and biogerontologist who had garnered attention for doubling the life span
of a roundworm by disabling a single gene. Aubrey de Grey, a British computer scientist turned theoretician who prophesied that medical advances would stop aging.
And Larry Page, co-founder of an Internet search darling called Google that had big ideas to improve health through the terabytes of data it was collecting.
He and the tech titans who founded Google, Facebook, eBay, Napster and Netscape are using their billions to rewrite the nation’s science agenda and transform biomedical research.
The work they are funding includes hunting for the secrets of living organisms with insanely long lives, engineering microscopic nanobots that can fix your body from the inside out,
figuring out how to reprogram the DNA you were born with, and exploring ways to digitize your brain based on the theory that your mind could live long after your body expires.
“I believe that evolution is a true account of nature,” as Thiel put it. “But I think we should try to escape it or transcend it in our society.”
washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/04/04/tech-titans-latest-project-defy-death/

(July 21, 2015) Another Personal Genetics Company Is Sharing Client Data
Today, personal genetics company AncestryDNA announced a partnership with the Google-owned biotech Calico,
which is working to research the biological drivers of longevity.
This collaboration is one of a few recent partnerships between personal genetics companies and pharma-minded businesses.
In January, the beleaguered 23andMe announced that it would share anonymized data on 650,000 of its customers with Pfizer,
as well as sequence the full genomes of 3,000 people with Parkinson's in a bid to develop a drug with Genentech.
Typically, it takes a lot of cajoling to get people—the research community would call them participants, or volunteers, or patients—
to part ways with their biological bits. But companies like AncestryDNA have convinced customers to pay to give their genetic data away,
at a cost of about $100 per sample. This is the same sort of bargain you make when you begrudgingly hand your personal information over to Google or Facebook:
You sacrifice some amount of data about yourself in return for added convenience.
While a consumer gets a certain amount of information from their genetic test—information about their ancestry,
or living relatives who have also gotten sequenced—their genetic data is almost always more valuable in aggregate.
And for Calico, a huge genetic database could be worth a lot, especially once data-miners combine it with Ancestry's forest of family trees.
wired.com/2015/07/another-personal-genetics-company-selling-client-data/

(January 11, 2017) Illumina wants to sequence your whole genome for $100
The first sequencing of the whole human genome in 2003 cost roughly $2.7 billion, but DNA sequencing giant Illumina has now unveiled a new machine
that the company says is “expected one day” to order up your whole genome for less than $100.
Illumina’s CEO Francis deSouza showed off the machine, called the NovaSeq, onstage at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference
in downtown San Francisco today, telling the crowd the machine’s scanning speed could decipher an entire human genome in less than an hour.
Six customers have already come on board to test NovaSeq, including the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub (the life sciences arm started by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan),
the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and biotech companies Regeneron and Human Longevity Inc.
techcrunch.com/2017/01/10/illumina-wants-to-sequence-your-whole-genome-for-100/

(April 3, 2017) Silicon Valley’s Quest to Live Forever
The first problem was the long study time in humans: it’s hard to run a clinical trial on subjects who take eighty years to die.
The second problem was the immense difficulty of determining whether any seeming cause of aging was actually causal, or merely a correlative of some other, stealthier process.
In 2013, Google launched Calico, short for the California Life Company, with a billion dollars in funding.
But Calico has proved to be extremely secretive. All that’s known is that it’s tracking a thousand mice from birth to death
to try to determine “biomarkers” of aging—biochemical substances whose levels predict morbidity;
that it has a colony of naked mole rats, which live for thirty years and are amazingly ugly;
and that it has invested in drugs that may prove helpful with diabetes and Alzheimer’s.(The company declined to comment.)

Nir Barzilai, a geneticist who is a leader in the aging field, told me, “The truth is, we don’t know what they’re doing,
but whatever it is doesn’t really seem to be attacking the problem.” Another scientist who’s familiar with Calico’s workings
said that it’s pursuing its mission judiciously, but that the company began, fatally, as a vanity project.
The scientist said, “This is as self-serving as the Medici building a Renaissance chapel in Italy,
but with a little extra Silicon Valley narcissism thrown in.
It’s based on the frustration of many successful rich people that life is too short:
‘We have all this money, but we only get to live a normal life span.’ ”

We’ve cured cancer in lab mice dozens of times, and made them live twice as long,
yet none of those results have transferred upstream.
“So many times, the mice have failed us,” the geneticist Nir Barzilai lamented.

Ned David had long suspected that the epigenome was central to longevity.
If the genome is our cellular hardware, then the epigenome is its software: it’s the code that activates DNA,
telling a cell to differentiate—to become a macrophage or a neuron—and then how to remember its identity.
The epigenome itself is controlled by agents that add or subtract chemical groups, known as marks, to its proteins.
Biologists suspect that when the epigenome accumulates too many marks, over time, the signals it sends to cells change dramatically
—and that those new signals produce the effects of aging. This process could explain, for instance, why an old person’s skin can refresh
itself with new cells every month and yet continue to look old.
newyorker.com/magazine/2017/04/03/silicon-valleys-quest-to-live-forever

(March 6, 2018) What if billionaires could live forever?
Several billionaires, most of them Californians, have been funding firms involved in developing life-extension technologies.
What if they succeed? What if billionaires alive today live indefinitely and get ever richer?
Diamandis and Hariri's new venture is the latest example of a well-established phenomenon in Silicon Valley:
Extremely wealthy techno-optimists have for years been funding biomedical R&D companies meant to achieve immortality for their funders.
Some of the more recognizable names who have been putting money into such efforts: Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle),
Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google), Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), and Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and Palantir Technologies.
Palantir, by the way, is a "big-data" company that uses algorithms to scan huge datasets for patterns.
It does a lot of work for US government intelligence agencies. Thiel is a radical corporate libertarian, and Silicon Valley's best-known Donald Trump supporter.
In late February, Diamandis wrote to subscribers of his email bulletin: "I asked the smartest people I know for their tech predictions for the next 20 years (2018 – 2038).
What are the breakthroughs we can expect on our countdown to the Singularity?" One of the predictions he listed was that by 2030, "humanity will have achieved Longevity Escape Velocity for the wealthiest."
dw.com/en/what-if-billionaires-could-live-forever/a-42840013

(October 20, 2019) Quest For Immortality
In The Book of Immortality, Canadian author and musician Adam Leith Gollner narrates that Oracle Founder, Larry Ellison, "has vowed to defeat mortality".
He then goes on to quote Ellison's biographer, Mark Wilson, "Part of Larry... is saying if he's smart enough, he should be able to beat (death).
Death is just another kind of corporate opponent that he can outfox."The super rich have chased immortality for millenniums
as it is one thing that wealth cannot buy. The list of billionaire age-warriors is quite long.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, PayPal Co-founder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos
and Google Co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page
have all declared war on death by throwing millions at immortality research and anti-ageing solutions.
According to an article published in The Guardian in February, Brin and Page are betting big on Calico,

a health venture that apparently aims to 'solve death'. On the other hand, Bezos and Thiel have backed Unity Biotechnology
that hopes to combat the effects of ageing. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,
the richest 1 per cent American women (by income) live a decade longer
than the 1 per cent at the bottom of the pyramid. For men, this gap could be nearly 15 years.
"The rich, powerful and important have always tried to circumvent destiny by throwing money at it. But we cannot bribe our way out."
businesstoday.in/magazine/luxury-special-2019/quest-for-immortality/story/382107.html

(November 11, 2019) Ascension, Google working on 'secret' patient data project, says WSJ
The initiative, which WSJ said had drawn some questions, both "technological and ethical,"
from some Ascension employees about how the information was being analyzed and shared, had reportedly been code-named Project Nightingale.
Google is apparently using the data to help inform its design of new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning software for Ascension.
WSJ reports that employees at different Alphabet divisions, including Google Brain, have access to the patient information.
Until recently, neither patients nor physicians knew that "at least 150 Google employees
already have access to much of the data on tens of millions of patients" across 21 states,
according to the article's author Rob Copeland, including "lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records,
among other categories ... including patient names and dates of birth."
healthcareitnews.com/news/ascension-google-working-secret-patient-data-project-says-wsj

(November 12, 2019) Meet the Startup: Chronomics’ epigenetics out of the lab
At Chronomics, we are defining the objective measures of health that go beyond blunt measures of biological age
and have the power to support the longevity space through provision of tractable measures of efficacy and impact.
The longevity sector is hugely important for the future of health globally and we are excited to be delivering the tools
to support the companies developing the therapeutics and interventions that will define the future of prevention.
longevity.technology/meet-the-startup-chronomics-epigenetics-out-of-the-lab/

(July 17, 2020) Startup Launches Longevity-As-A-Service With Its Aging Clocks
Newly launched Deep Longevity, a spinoff of Insilico Medicine, will be using artificial intelligence (AI) AI
to tackle age-related diseases using a constellation of “aging clocks” as yardsticks of health
and the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions and dietary supplements—as well as develop new aging clocks
in collaboration with concierge longevity practice Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI).
So says Alex Zhavoronkov, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Deep Longevity and patent holder on biomarkers used in some of the aging clocks.

In the scope of collaboration with HLI, Deep Longevity will develop and provide customized predictors of human biological age
to clinicians at Health Nucleus, the brick-and-mortar health wellness space of HLI located in San Diego, California.
Its clientele is among the “ultra-rich” who demand and receive the best available care in the land,
and that makes them ideal first adopters of the technology before the price tag falls
within reach of most consumers, says Zhavoronkov.

The entire collection of aging clocks sits in an Amazon cloud,
allowing Deep Longevity to create a “longevity as a service” product suite
to help people live longer and function better, he says.
HLI is separately growing an ecosystem of startups around its genomic-powered,
precision medicine business model that includes the planting of new Health Nucleus locations around the globe.

Outside of its collaboration with HLI, Deep Longevity has conducted research concluding that COVID-19 is a “gerolavic” disease,
meaning “harmful to the elderly,” says Zhavoronkov. In April, in a paper published in Aging (DOI: 10.18632/aging.102988),
he points to statistics from the pandemic indicating the majority of the infected population is 50 or older and almost everyone who dies of it is 60-plus years of age.
“When a young person dies it makes the news.” His hypothesis, now being tested with the aging clocks, is that people who are biologically (but not necessarily chronologically) older
are more likely to be infected with COVID-19 and have a more severe course of the disease.

Deep Longevity also plans to find a customer base among life insurance companies
whose actuarial models would be more accurate if they included the biological age of people, Zhavoronkov says.
Innovations in the space have been limited to common behavioral modifications and broadening of exclusion criteria.
diagnosticsworldnews.com/news/2020/07/17/startup-launches-longevity-as-a-service-with-its-aging-clocks

(August 5, 2020) Blackstone Reaches $4.7 Billion Deal to Buy Ancestry.com
Blackstone Group Inc. acquired a majority stake in Ancestry.com Inc., the business known for family history research and DNA testing.
It’s the first acquisition by Blackstone’s largest ever private equity fund.
Silver Lake and Singaporean sovereign-wealth fund GIC Pte have been the majority owners since 2016.
After the deal closes, Blackstone will own about 75% and GIC will still hold about 25% of Ancestry.com,
said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
Based in Lehi, Utah, Ancestry.com has more than 3 million paying subscribers and more than 18 million people in its DNA network.
It sells at-home DNA testing kits to customers, competing with 23andMe Inc.
bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-05/blackstone-said-to-reach-4-7-billion-deal-to-buy-ancestry-com

(August 12, 2020) Alphabet’s Verily opens own lab to speed up COVID testing
In a blog post, Verily, Alphabet's life sciences research arm and a sister company to Google, has set up its own CLIA-certified lab
(i.e., it has clinical laboratory credentials) and used tech from Thermo Fisher Scientific’s TaqPath test kit,
which has an emergency use tag (EUA) from the FDA, to test for COVID-19.
It’s also sent off an EUA application for an adaptation of the TaqPath test
for use in testing pooled patient specimens, which can further speed up testing.
And it’s “verified” the Roche Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody test,
which can assess if you’ve had the disease (rather than currently have it),
with plans to “implement additional tests in our lab,” said Deb Hanks, M.D., lead pathologist at Verily, in the blog post.
fiercebiotech.com/medtech/alphabet-s-verily-opens-own-lab-to-speed-up-covid-testing

(December 28, 2020) 23andMe Raises More Than $80 Million in Equity Financing Round
DNA testing company 23andMe Inc. raised more than $80 million in equity in a financing round led by Sequoia Capital and NewView Capital.
According to Securities and Exchanges Commission filings, the company offered $85 million in equity and sold about $82.5 million.
Previously, the company had raised about $791 million. In recent years, 23andMe has begun moving beyond
telling individual consumers about their DNA and begun work developing therapeutics based on research into genetic information
its customers provide. For example, the company has used its data to find genetic differences
that can affect a person’s susceptibility to Covid-19.
bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-28/23andme-raises-more-than-80-million-in-equity-financing-round

(April 13, 2021) Big tech pouring billions into harvesting blood of the young so elites can live and rule forever
It’s something straight out of a science fiction movie, and a bad one at that, but it’s absolutely true:
Big Tech oligarchs in the U.S. and abroad are pouring billions into research that will enable them to live and govern eternally
by literally discovering the once-fictional “fountain of youth,” even if they have to harvest the blood of the young to achieve it.

Previously, “people working on diseases did not think that aging was modifiable,” Felipe Sierra,
a now-retired director of the Division of Aging Biology at the National Institute on Aging, told Newsweek.
“That is actually what many medical books say: The main risk factor for cardiovascular disease is aging,
but we cannot change aging so let’s talk about cholesterol and obesity. For Alzheimer’s, aging is the main risk factor—
but let’s talk about the buildup in the brain of beta-amyloid proteins. Now that is beginning to change.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, investors were putting up billions to fund these biotech firms. And now, the payoff is close.
“You have no idea how many people are interested to investing money in longevity,” Nir Barzilai,
founding director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University,
as well as the founder of one of the biotech firms, told Newsweek. “There are billions of dollars.”

newstarget.com/2021-04-13-big-tech-pouring-billions-into-harvesting-blood-of-the-young.html
newsweek.com/2021/04/16/can-blood-young-people-slow-aging-silicon-valley-has-bet-billions-it-will-1581447.html

(June 17, 2021) 23andMe DNA-Testing Firm Goes Public Following Branson Deal
DNA-testing company 23andMe Inc., which has doubled down on its effort to prove consumer genetics offers more than entertainment value, began publicly trading on Nasdaq Thursday under the ticker “ME.”
The stock rose 7.2% to $11.78 at 11:52 a.m. in New York trading following a deal to merge with VG Acquisition Corp., a special-purpose acquisition company founded by billionaire Richard Branson.
The agreement valued the company at $3.5 billion, with Chief Executive Officer Anne Wojcicki and Branson each investing $25 million.
Moving forward, 23andMe has a deal in place to collaborate on drug development with GlaxoSmithKline Plc, which took a $300 million stake in the company in 2018.
Other investors beyond Branson and Wojcicki in the SPAC deal
included Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Altimeter Capital, Casdin Capital and Foresite Capital.
bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-17/23andme-dna-testing-company-goes-public-following-branson-deal

(July 13, 2021) U.S. Special Operations Command to Test Anti-Aging Pill
U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM)—which develops and employs Special Operations Forces
worldwide to advance U.S. policies and objectives—has “completed preclinical safety and dosing studies
in anticipation of follow-on performance testing” of a first-in-class nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, oxidized state (NAD+) enhancer,
a small molecule drug being developed by Metro International Biotech (MetroBiotech),
Navy Cmdr. Timothy A. Hawkins, a spokesperson for SOCOM, told GEN.
SOCOM and MetroBiotech are set to start clinical trials during the 2022 federal fiscal year, which starts October 1.
genengnews.com/news/u-s-special-operations-command-to-test-anti-aging-pill/

(July 28, 2021) George Church on Gene Therapies and Longevity
What have been the successes and the failures of gene therapy in recent years? What do you expect to happen in the next few years?

So, most of the big failures of gene therapy happened at the very beginning, around the year 2000,
almost two decades ago, when a couple of people died from an LMO2 oncogene, and one person died from an immune reaction to an adenovirus vector.
So, that was 20 years ago. Fast forward to now, and gene therapies are mostly succeeding, hundreds of them are in clinical trials,
you have dozens that have been approved by the FDA.

That’s gene therapy broadly, and there are even a few specifically CRISPR-based, which means editing.
Gene therapy is, classically, adding a gene, while CRISPR is typically subtracting a gene,
and those also are beginning to work for sickle cell disease and retinal disease, and so on.
Both categories are looking pretty good recently, in the last few years.

Do you think that the success of the vaccines can change the momentum, maybe in terms of policy and regulation?
Absolutely. Also, the speed. This is radically new technology, and yet, messenger RNA for gene delivery was approved in ten months.
And so, we can hope that this is generalizable to other, similar therapies.
lifespan.io/news/george-church-on-gene-therapies-and-longevity/

(September 4, 2021) Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has reportedly invested in Altos Labs, a startup dedicated to discovering how to reverse the aging process.
Altos Labs is the brainchild of another billionaire, Yuri Milner.
Milner is regarded as Russia's most powerful digital investor
and was one of the early supporters of Facebook (per Screen Rant), Twitter, and Xiaomi.

Input Mag said Larry Page, Peter Thiel, and Larry Ellison are affluent individuals who have invested in anti-aging research.
Last year, Bezos and Thiel invested in Unity Technologies, which hopes to develop anti-aging medicines.
Meanwhile, Page, a co-founder of Google, has invested substantially in a startup named Calico.

nypost.com/2021/09/07/jeff-bezos-invests-in-anti-aging-startup-altos-labs/
sciencetimes.com/articles/33399/20210913/jeff-bezos-wants-to-live-forever-why-is-he-cheating-death-anyway.htm
technologyreview.com/2021/09/04/1034364/altos-labs-silicon-valleys-jeff-bezos-milner-bet-living-forever/


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