In light of the recent $1 million donation to the MPrize for anti-aging research - and the stellar progress of the prize throughout 2005 - I think it's well worth reading April Smith's repost of a debate over the merits of the Methuselah Mouse Prize versus other forms of funding for the future of healthy life extension:
We need a large amount of money, directed only at the actual prevention/reversal of aging. The problem with this is that nobody wants to fund it with venture capital because guess what... it takes a long time to see if people will die! As soon as a CR mimetic drug looks promising, for example if it looks like it can also be a cancer drug or some such thing, then all the capital goes into that, since a profit can be made right now, and the studies are shorter term. For example: Geron was founded by Michael West to exploit telomerase as the cellular fountain of youth. Venture capital got excited about this early on, because West put forward a powerful pitch at a crucial time (the early, optimistic inflation of the biotech bubble), but investors rapidly lost interest in the long term goals and began insisting that Geron be forthcoming with a drug get into the drug development pipeline post haste. So telomerase as anti-aging enzyme became telomerase as a target for inhibition as a cancer treatment. The same thing has happened to all of the biotech companies that have initially made their buzz by promising anti-aging drugs: Sirtris, Elixir, and all the way down.
Meanwhile, participants at the Immortality Institute forums are debating the merits of funding the MPrize versus buying more supplements:
I definitely go for the Mprize, but taking care of my personal health is just as important to me as my commitment to the 300. In any case, if you cant afford a continuous economical support to the Mprize, a single donation of any size is enough to add an extra voice to the list of voices against the horrors of aging.