The costs of life science research are falling rapidly. What was expensive is now cheap: a few bright graduate studies and a small lab can accomplish in six months what would have required an entire institution and the better part of a decade in 1990. This means that, setting aside the incredible burden of regulation, prototyping a major new medical procedure or taking a therapy from theory to working result in laboratory animals has become cheap in comparison to many endeavors. It can cost considerably less to build a focused therapy given a strategy to work with than to construct the laboratory building in which the researchers work, for example - though it is true that the building will not take as long to assemble.
Degenerative aging in particular does not lack for a plan that can lead to effective therapies: the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS). The likely cost of following through from where we are now to demonstrating the collection of seven to ten different therapies needed to rejuvenate old mice is a billion dollars and a decade or two in which to spend it well. Today funding for these various lines of research runs at a bare few million a year, and a great deal of work and advocacy was required to reach that far.
A billion dollars at a rate of fifty to a hundred million a year is a large sum of money in one sense, but smaller than countless organized projects that take place in the wealthier regions of the world. How much longer can the earnest pursuit of rejuvenation continue to be within the easy grasp of an alliance of any dozen of the world's twelve hundred billionaires and yet not funded to any great level? If shared between such a group, the individual costs wouldn't come close to what these figures invest in order to achieve far less beneficial end goals.
Some similar sentiments can be found in a recent article:
If you make it real hot, real fast, the frog will jump out of the pot. But if you turn up the heat slowly, before the frog realizes it, it will be too late, and the frog slowly dies. As aging humans, we are all slowly (and some not so slowly) being boiled alive by the ravages of time. The world's 1,226 billionaires, like that ill-fated frog in the story above, are [also] slowly being boiled alive.
Why, then, aren't they, or at least several of them, stepping up to the plate and getting out of the slowly heating pot that will put an end to all that they now enjoy and have worked so successfully to achieve? After all, at least 215 of them have $5 billion or more, and we estimate we might solve aging for less than $5 billion total spread over the next 16-20 years.
Some billionaires actually get it and in fact have offered some funding. But none has made a major commitment as far as I know. And that's tragic - for them and for you.
For how long can a brass ring remain hanging unclaimed? The opportunity to build the basis for human rejuvenation biotechnology exists, yet there is no massively funded effort underway to reach that goal. For how long can this state of affairs continue?