Many are on a mission to “fix” the problem of aging in California’s Silicon Valley. In fact, one hedge fund manager is offering up $1 million to anyone who can “hack the code of life” and extend human life past 120 years old.
According to The Guardian, hedge fund manager Joon Yun believes it is possible to extend life indefinitely. Yun notes that with old age comes a plethora of health problems that statistically reduce your life expectancy. However, the chance of death as a young adult is practically nonexistent. Yun says that the chance of dying between the ages of 25 and 26 years old is only 0.1 percent. Yun wants to make that percent consistent across the ages, whether the person is 25 or 75 years old.
To encourage scientists to study longevity in humans, Yun set up the Palo Alto Longevity Prize. The prize offers up $1 million to anyone who can extend the life span in mice up to 50 percent. According to Yun, there are currently 15 different teams entered into the contest and he expects to add more money to the total prize as goals are met. After the initial goal of 50 percent increase in life expectancy is achieved, Yun says he plans to add offer up more money for feats above and beyond until longevity is no longer an “issue.” There may not be a real fountain of youth; however, many scientists seem to believe that modern medicine could create a fountain of youth of their own.
It isn’t just basement scientists taking on the task of increasing life span. Many prominent scientists from universities across the United States are advising Yun in his mission for a longer life span. It isn’t just Yun interested in the feat either. In 2013, search engine mega-giant Google announced the creation of Calico, short for the California Life Company. The company claims its mission is to reverse engineer the biology that controls lifespan and “devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives.”
“Calico is a research and development company whose mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan. We will use that knowledge to devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives. Executing on this mission will require an unprecedented level of interdisciplinary effort and a long-term focus for which funding is already in place.”
With the “funding already in place” there is still a lot of mystery surrounding exactly what type of technologies the company plans to implement to extend the life of the human race. What we do know about the Calico project is that the team consists of scientists from a variety of fields including “medicine, drug development, molecular biology, and genetics.”
It should come to no surprise that once a giant player such as Google enters the longevity field, others would follow close behind. In March, 2014, biologist Craig Venter and the founder of the X Prize Foundation, Peter Diamandis, announced a new company called Human Longevity, Inc., which would be in direct competition with Google’s Calico project.
“Our [Human Longevity Inc] goal is to extend and enhance the healthy, high-performance lifespan and change the face of aging. For the first time, the power of human genomics, informatics, next generation DNA sequencing technologies, and stem cell advances are being harnessed in one company, Human Longevity Inc., with the leading pioneers in these fields. Our goal is to solve the diseases of aging by changing the way medicine is practiced.”
Aubrey de Grey, who is on the Palo Alto Longevity prize board, says that with so much interest in the field, he believes that the first person to reach the age of 1,000 years old is already alive. In other words, he feels the anti-aging breakthrough is just on the horizon with so many big players now in the anti-aging platform.
What do you think? Will scientists be able to tackle the “problem” of aging, or do you think there are limits to human life span capabilities?