The company Human Longevity was recently founded to work on the genetics of aging and health. My thinking is that genetics is a hot field, and there is much to be done in the general context of medicine, but that insofar as longevity goes it is the wrong place to be looking for large benefits. Epigenetic and gene expression changes are secondary consequences in aging, not the root cause, and natural genetic variations have a small effect on aging in comparison to what might be possible through repair biotechnologies such as those of the SENS vision. So for aging the outcome of Human Longevity is likely to be incremental advances in the present day practice of ignoring the comparatively simple causes of degeneration, the accumulation of damage, while trying to patch over the very complex end states by tinkering with enormously complex dysregulations of metabolism and biological systems that occur in response to damage. This is doomed to only marginal success, just like the medicine of today.
Here is a piece that provides more context on where Human Longevity is headed in the near term: undoubtedly useful, just not so much for aging. We all age in the same way, due to the same root causes involving an accumulation of specific, known forms of damage to cells and molecular tissue structures. Fix those causes by repairing them and near all but the most rare and catastrophic genetic variations are irrelevant. They simply don't matter.
Genome scientist and entrepreneur J. Craig Venter is best known for being the first person to sequence his own genome, back in 2001. This year, he started a new company, Human Longevity, which intends to sequence one million human genomes by 2020. Venter says that he's sequenced 500 people's genomes so far, and that volunteers are starting to also undergo a battery of tests measuring their strength, brain size, how much blood their hearts pump, and, says Venter, "just about everything that can be measured about a person, without cutting them open." This information will be fed into a database that can be used to discover links between genes and these traits, as well as disease. But that's going to require some massive data crunching.
In my view there have not been a significant number of advances [in genomics]. One reason for that is that genomics follows a law of very big numbers. I've had my genome for 15 years, and there's not much I can learn because there are not that many others to compare it to. Until now, there's not been software for comparing my genome to your genome, much less to a million genomes. We want to get to a point where it takes a few seconds to compare your genome to all the others. It's going to take a lot of work to do that.
Understanding the human genome at the scale that we are trying to do it is going to be one of the greatest translation challenges in history. Everything in a cell derives from your DNA code, all the proteins, their structure, whether they last seconds or days. All that is preprogrammed in DNA language. Then it is translated into life. People are going to be very surprised about how much of a DNA software species we are.