Investing in Longevity Science

An excellent article from CNBC looks at some of the few figures in the investment community who support progress towards extended healthy lifespans: "what if 'getting old' wasn't really 'getting old?' What if aging - at least the physical deteriorations that accompany it - was something that could be prevented? It's a lofty idea, but it's one that a new breed of biotech start-ups, scientists, and prominent investors are beginning to tackle. Peter Thiel is one of those investors. ... Back in 2006, Thiel gave Cambridge anti-aging researcher Aubrey de Grey $3.5 million under the auspices of the Methusaleh Foundation, a non-profit headquartered in Springfield, Virgina, that awards scientists who are working on life-extension therapies. 'Probably the most extreme form of inequality is between people who are alive and people who are dead,' Thiel told The New Yorker. In 2010, Thiel and his partners at Founders Fund, a Bay Area venture capital firm, invested $500,000 in Halcyon Molecular, a biotech start-up whose 28-year-old founder has a 'dream to create a world free from cancer and aging.' To understand the fund's investment, you have to appreciate what Founders Fund is - or, more specifically, what it is not. 'These are not guys who care about an extra million dollars,' says Brian Singerman, a partner at Founders Fund along with Thiel. 'These are guys who wanted to do something amazing for the world.' Singerman, an early employee at Google, [came] to Founders Fund after having what he describes as an 'epic six hour epic dinner with Sean Parker.' Equal parts brilliant and idealistic, Singerman is adamant that aging is a problem that can be solved. The fund's portfolio has invested in about 14 health and biotech companies all interested in solving life's ultimate problem: death. ... We have a company that's charged with curing all viral disease, we have a company that's charged with curing several types of cancer. These are not things that are incremental approaches. It's all fine and good to have a drug that extends life by a certain amount of months or makes living with a disease easier. That's not what we're looking for. We are not looking for incremental change. We are looking for absolute cures in anything we do."



Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.