Longevity medicine has already generated several lifetimes’ worth of hype and hogwash. There have been opportunistic (or narcissistic) promises of 500-year lifespans that captured the popular press even as reasonable scientists labored for legitimate discoveries in the background. Bad-boy billionaires like Peter Thiel and Jeff Bezos reportedly poured millions into life-extension startups. Such cash influxes, plus popular culture portrayals, have spawned a new generation of longevity-obsessed fanboys. The HBO comedy Silicon Valley spoofed the unproven longevity practice of infusing older people with “young blood.” Entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt assured a set of Los Angeles VIPs that we will “make death optional.”
Now, leaders in the field are busy shaking off the shadow of immortality salesmen as they set up for a new stage of growth. Their science, they say, is almost mature enough to deliver real therapies. And the Buck Institute—a small, independent research center in a California suburb almost no one’s heard of—wants to lead the field into maturity.
The Buck Institute Website: https://www.buckinstitute.org
Related Thread/Post: "Forever Young" Anti-aging at the Buck Institute: Interview With Their CEO
I’d focus more on solving the reproducibility issue. Seems like few places want to solve that. Hint: it’s a prestige and “publish or perish” mindset.
NIA ITP was a step in the right direction to help solve part of it over the past decade which is partly why it’s the “gold standard” - but manual work is still slow
That’s partly why I thought the intersection of computational biochemistry, machine learning/computer vision/robotics, and medicine (particularly personalized/precision medicine) seemed to be the best gamble to solve this issue when genome costs went down a millionfold over the past 2 decades - far better than Moore’s Law.
We already have the capacity to solve it - but a lot of the tech actually lies with Google.
Verdin (CEO) is a bit more sanguine re “aging research”, thinking about something perhaps within translation reach.
“I don’t think it’s a stretch to think we could bring everyone to 95 healthy. The field is not talking about this enough. We’re only talking about how we are going to get the tech guys to live to 150, but that’s not where the real urgency is”
“The crucial next step for both the Buck and the broader field is to drive its decades of basic research into the clinic—a key mandate for Verdin when he took the helm at the Buck six years ago. Where in the past clinical translation was about 10 to 20 percent of the Buck’s work, Verdin wants to push it to 50 percent.”
Fully agree, not enough in clinical translation…we have some amazing molecules floating around, we need to better harness them NOW.
This bullet caught my attention:
This is the focus of Verdin’s own lab at the Buck. We know that food is not just energy. It has signaling properties that affect the epigenome (the set of chemical signals that dictate which of our genes is activated, and when and where). Verdin studies how diet affects the levels of key metabolites in the body, and how these in turn influence the immune response—especially the chronic inflammation associated with aging. Several startups have spun out of this work, including Buck-based Napa Therapeutics and BHB Therapeutics and the virtual Selah Therapeutics, which studies the role of ketones (produced in response to a low-carb diet) in heart disease