David Gobel, one of the pillars of our longevity science and advocacy community, cofounded the Methuselah Foundation with Aubrey de Grey way back when, and continues to run that organization today. Over the years he has supervised a diverse set of grants, projects, and successful investments in tissue engineering and aging research, including the first SENS rejuvenation research programs, prior to the launch of the SENS Research Foundation. With the recent influx of capital to new companies seeking to produce therapies that target mechanisms of aging, investment at the Methuselah Foundation has expanded to become the Methuselah Fund, a hybrid for-profit/non-profit vehicle that will continue the work of accelerating progress towards meaningful rejuvenation therapies.
How did your involvement in life extension begin; did you realize the problem of aging yourself, or were you introduced to it by someone else?
It started because of my awareness that the healthcare system was broken, like the growth of an unplanned city that has no rhyme or reason. Our healthcare system reacts to system failures rather than preventing them, because that is more lucrative. The incentives push science in poor directions, and then these become inferior technologies and treatments. I came to the conclusion that we need a system reset. After much research and reflection, it became my conviction that this reset should be to delay and reverse aging and rejuvenate robust health. I believe this will result in reduced suffering and the greatest opportunity for individual and civilizational growth.
Methuselah Foundation has given millions of dollars to regenerative medicine research, backing ventures such as Organovo, Oisin Biotechnologies, and SENS Research Foundation. Would you like to tell us about some of the results that these companies have obtained thanks to your charity?
Well, Organovo invented and is now selling high-fidelity 3D human liver and kidney tissues to the research market, is providing contract services, and is on track to deliver a 3D liver patch to the clinic in two years. Another portfolio alumnus, Silverstone Matchgrid, has saved the lives of over 1,000 people due to our investment in its paired kidney donation software. This software is now used in over 35 hospitals in the U.S., Europe, and soon, Saudi Arabia. I don't think I need to say anything about SENS Foundation - it is fantastic, and we at Methuselah Foundation couldn't be prouder of its success and contributions.
We have very high expectations for Oisin Bio and OncoSenX. We anticipate that it will be in Phase 1 safety trials by mid-2019. We hope to provide it to some patients much sooner than previously possible, as the FDA is liberalizing treatment availability via the recently passed "Right to Try" legislation. Leucadia Therapeutics is a startup focused on defeating Alzheimer's disease. This is progressing and promising. We hope to have major news later this year. Rather than go on, I'd like to say that we at Methuselah Foundation tend to be modest about proclaiming our successes. We prefer that the companies and scientists behind them get famous.
Can you tell us about the Methuselah Fund and how its mission differs from that of Methuselah Foundation?
The Methuselah Fund, or M Fund, is designed to give donors a chance to get a return on equity now that the longevity field is maturing. Many of our donors have been faithfully donating for years, and now that opportunities are emerging, we wanted to give them the first opportunity to invest. We are delighted to announce that we just successfully closed the M Fund's Founder's Round. We now have four companies in our portfolio and have been looking at helping form some promising new ventures. We are particularly proud to say that every single one of our members is a mission-driven individual who wants, more than anything, to see an end to the aging problem.
You were the first to put forward the concept of longevity escape velocity, or LEV. How far are we from LEV, assuming the current pace of research and no serious showstoppers?
I anticipate that within 3 years, some interventions will be available via safety trials and that people who are treated will receive benefits that put them on a path toward LEV. I believe things will accelerate from there, as vastly more attention is triggered by early advances. We are seeing the first glimmers of this already.