Craig Venter, a biologist and entrepreneur as well as one of the first people to map the human genome, wants to make 100 the new 60. His latest venture, announced yesterday, will concentrate on extending the human lifespan.
Human Longevity has already received $70 million in private backing and aims to use both genomics and stem cell therapies to allow us to live longer, healthier lives.
“Your age is your No. 1 risk factor for almost every disease, but it’s not a disease itself,” Venter told The New York Times. If slowing the aging process is indeed possible, it could present a new defense against disease, potentially preventing a slew of life-threatening conditions all at once, eliminating the need to find individual cures.
Despite this possibility, the San Diego, Calif.-based company will also work on treating individual diseases of aging, concentrating on cancer, diabetes and obesity, heart and liver diseases and dementia. It will focus its initial clinical sequencing efforts on cancer, teaming up with the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego to sequence the genomes of every patient who is treated there, as well as perform a full genome sequence on their tumors. "The goal is to analyze, utilize and share the data generated with the objective of enhancing diagnostic abilities and improving patient outcomes," the company said in a statement.
To do all this, Human Longevity will build a human sequencing operation capable of processing 40,000 human genomes a year. The DNA data collected will be combined with additional data on health and body compositions of individuals who are both healthy and sick, ranging in age from infants to those who have celebrated their 100th birthday, in order to better understand the molecular causes of aging and age-related illnesses.
Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, chairman of the X Prize Foundation, and Dr. Robert Hariri, founder and chief scientific officer of cell therapy operations at the biotechnology company Celgene, are both co-founders.
Diamandis said the goal is not to achieve immortality, but rather to make “100 years old the next 60.”
Venter reiterated this sentiment: "Using the combined power of our core areas of expertise—genomics, informatics, and stem cell therapies, we are tackling one of the greatest medical/scientific and societal challenges—aging and aging related diseases," he said in a statement. "Our goal is not necessarily lengthening life, but extending a healthier, high performing, more productive lifespan."
Back in September, Google announced that it had invested in a company called Calico, which also focuses on the "challenge of aging and associated diseases."