No sir. The white hat hackers will level the playing field. The open source community will eventually bring the secrets to the public, at affordable prices.
This is an interesting idea that I think we may want to explore more. My first thought when seeing this was that it seems unlikely that white hat biohackers are ever going to be able to duplicate the well-funded labs and clinical trials of the biotech and pharma industries, but then again perhaps they wouldn’t have to.
It might help to look at the different potential classifications for longevity therapeutics, and I’m sure this will change over time, but right now a rough way to look at it might be something like this (other approaches and ideas are welcome):
- Small Molecule Drugs (like rapamycin).
- Blood Factors / Blood Services (e.g. plasmapheresis)
- Stem Cells / Biologicals (proteins / peptides, mRNA products, etc.)
- Cellular Reprogramming
- Gene Therapy
Its interesting to think about how treatment options may evolve over time, and potentially counteract the tendency for these therapies to primarily benefit the very wealthy. And its interesting to consider how countervailing trends or scenarios could play out to “level the playing field” a bit. I’m assuming most of the visitors here are not the billionaires.
So I don’t view this discussion as an adventure in political philosophy. I’m more interested in the pragmatic issue of what actions people may be able to take, or will likely take, to counter this potential issue, and get access to these therapeutics that may be out of their price range (in the USA).
Small Molecule Drugs: As we’ve seen with rapamycin, many longevity drugs may be generic (or soon be generic - like SGLT2 inhibitors), and available at moderate costs in the US, and at low cost from other countries like the India pharmacies. The good news is that many new drugs are priced differently in different countries, so people can share pricing as people do here to find the best value locale. New drugs are more challenging and tend to be very expensive. And, pretty much all the longevity drugs will first come out for specific disease conditions… e.g. heart disease, sarcopenia, etc… There may be groups of biohackers that can copy and produce some drugs, but I have not heard of much in this area. Another strategy people might use is to try to identify existing drugs that target the same pathway as a new drug might do. Some drugs will be available from the lab supply companies and increasingly people may be taking this avenue - as people are already doing with 17-alpha estradiol, IRISIN, etc. - and perhaps identifying reliable lab supply groups off-shore.
Blood Factors / Blood Services (e.g. plasmapheresis) - this type of thing would seem to perhaps have a lower barrier to entry than the typical pharmaceutical (new drug development) endeavor. There are already many of these places in central and south america that are not limited by much regulation - so places like minicircle and other longevity clinics that are popping up around the world. It would seem that in the Longevity field, more and more medical tourism will be a factor; both on the high end where people are getting early access to specific gene therapies, etc., and on the lower end, where people just want lower cost plamapheresis, etc. It seems that these types of products and services might be more amenable to reverse-engineering and coping, and thus duplicated at a lower cost outside the US, where costs of living are lower, and thus service pricing can be lower. Of course, there are increased risks in these scenarios due to the lack of regulation. Some examples of these: Longevity Clinics: What They Are, Services & More . At some point we’ll have to develop a database of all the off-shore longevity clinics, their services/prices, and ratings from customers. I’m hearing from more and more people who are visiting and getting services at these sites.
Stem Cells / Biologicals (proteins / peptides, mRNA products, gene therapy, stem cells, etc.) - another area that, depending on the manufacturing requirements, may lend themselves more easily to either serious biohackers or duplication in lower cost countries. There are quite a few (and increasing) biohacker collectives / labs being formed in many cities with highly educated workforces and so this is a potential avenue for some groups of people: BioCurious (Santa Clara, CA): https://biocurious.org/ , CounterCulture Labs, Berkeley CA: https://www.counterculturelabs.org/ and others: These Bay Area biohackers tried to disrupt health care. New doc shows what went wrong.. Ultimately, any city with a strong biology/science/medical academic center would be able to duplicate this type of effort.
And as these longevity therapeutics become more validated, I’m sure we’ll see different countries taking different approaches to providing them to their populations just as we see today with different countries pursuing different healthcare system approaches. For a wealthy country with an aging population (Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, etc.) it would seem make a lot of sense to provide these therapies and drugs freely to their populations so that people can avoid typical late-life disease and medical costs, and push those expenses out while also allowing people to work longer and be effective in the workforce longer. And then of course, if one country starts to do this there will start to be a black market in the drugs, as those drugs are shipped to other countries.