Today's news, linked below, comes from the Russian end of the longevity science community. If you've been following the work of the Science for Life Extension Foundation folk over the years, then you'll recognize many of the names involved, but this particular announcement involves a group that I wasn't aware existed. Before diving in, I should say that in comparison to the English language world the Russian public and longevity science community have always been far more enthusiastic and outspoken when it comes to the logical end goal for efforts to treat aging. That means the defeat of aging, the production of a cure for aging, to bring aging under the complete control of medicine, to end aging and thereby produce indefinite healthy life spans. There is probably an interesting anthropological study to be made of this difference between our cultures, but equally perhaps it is simply the consequence of a greater degree of engagement, respect, and support for the sciences one sees in Russia and the surrounding regions.
IVAO is organizing an international conference titled "Biomedical Innovations for Healthy Longevity", where top thought academic thought leaders and industry executives from all over the world will convene for three days to present latest research results, discuss translational and commercialization opportunities, establish valuable collaborations, network and partner. The event features a business forum with one day dedicated to round table discussions on presenting favorably presenting aging research in the press, novel ways to attract funding and classifying aging and many age-associated conditions.
At the conference IVAO plans to announce a roadmap for investing over $1 billion into a broad range of projects, companies and financial instruments linked to longevity research. "After millennia of failed promises, we are finally reaching the point in human evolution, where major breakthroughs contributing to the body of knowledge in aging are happening almost every month in laboratories all over the world. We decided to combine the best features of mutual funds, venture capital firms and analytical companies in one place to build a reasonably conservative investment vehicle to take part in the coming longevity boom," said Andrey Fomenko, founder of IVAO.
"Since 1995 Andrey Fomenko and I monitored research activities in aging and longevity. When in 1996 we established our non-profit Eternal Youth Foundation, most people did not understand. But today these technologies are becoming mainstream and time horizons for many technologies are shrinking," said Lada Fomenko, the head of Eternal Youth Foundation and Director of IVAO. Scientists, industry executive, investors and students are invited to attend the conference and network with the most advanced professionals in aging and longevity to help advance the entire field.
Human organization friction is a very real thing. The larger and less familiar the endeavor, the longer it takes to pull people together, raise funds, and get going. You should assume that any new venture you read about in the press was at least a few years in the making, quietly and behind the scenes. When fields are especially young, it can take years of networking, advocacy, and happenstance for a community to evolve to the point at which formal ventures are even a possibility. So while the regular readers here at Fight Aging! have been involved in this modern rejuvenation research community for a while and are generally pretty bullish on longevity science, the rest of the world is only just opening its eyes.
It has been more than twenty years since the first compelling demonstrations of slowed aging in laboratory animals using modern technologies. Most of the time since then has been a beginning of sorts, the formation of a community, a war of persuasion and debate in the research community, a growing amount of bootstrapped funding, a few major failed projects seeking to find treatments for aging, and advocacy for better ways forward such as the SENS damage repair approach. In the grand scheme of things, the tens of millions of dollars devoted to new work on aging by a handful of foundations over the past decade, hard-won victories though they were, are still just faint echoes at the edges of the broader field of medical research. The mainstream is billions in funding for pure research, and hundreds of times that amount for the business of treatments.
Faint echoes are how every new mainstream paradigm begins, however. The end of the beginning was definitively marked by Google's high profile investment in interventional aging research in 2013. It was a sign that the comparatively quiet cultural war that took place in the aging research community over the past few decades was over, and those who favored public discussion and treatment of aging won decisively. Similarly, it was a sign that the overlapping networks of technology, philanthropy, and capital now understood medicine for aging as a promising frontier, something worthy of more than the largely small and faltering experiments in investment that had taken place in the decade prior, the now long-dead startups that suffered largely from being too early, struggling prior to the first wave of significant support for their goals.
Matters are accelerating now. It is rarely the case that more than a few months go by these days without an entirely new significant venture that I had never heard of coming to my notice. People in the philanthropic and investment communities are slowly but surely waking up to the prospects for treating aging and ultimately bringing aging under medical control, and some are becoming quite enthusiastic supporters of radical life extension along the way. Some have been building funds and connections for a few years now, largely isolated from the portions of the advocacy community we're familiar with. The community itself has broadened until its far nodes are well beyond my sight and awareness. This is all very promising, for all that I fully expect most of the new money, like that put in by Google, or that invested in Human Longevity Inc., to go to projects that will do nothing but add knowledge, or only incrementally improve the present inadequate approach to treatments for aging. That means work on therapies that do little or nothing to address the root causes of aging, and are usually only poor patches over the damage. Funding communities build upon themselves, however, and the more interested money in the ecosystem, the easier it will be to advance the state of SENS rejuvenation research - both the work that still must be done in the labs, and the startup companies that are launched or close to launch.