There have been signs that Saudi Arabian interests are considering putting significant amounts of funding into accelerating progress towards the treatment of aging, though it is entirely unclear as to whether any of that investment will be targeted towards the more useful areas of research and development, those focused on repair and reversal of age-related damage. This article is a decent high level summary of what may or may not come to pass via the Hevolution Foundation as a vehicle for the deployment of sovereign wealth into geroscience. The present accelerating trajectory for increased funding of translational aging research is clearly heading in this direction. Consider the few billion in funding devoted to reprogramming in just the last year or two. If not Saudi Arabia, then other countries will sooner or later devote large-scale funding towards the treatment of aging, in the hopes that it will prevent the collapse of entitlement systems due to the rising average age of the population.
Anyone who has more money than they know what to do with eventually tries to cure aging. Google founder Larry Page has tried it. Jeff Bezos has tried it. Tech billionaires Larry Ellison and Peter Thiel have tried it. Now the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has about as much money as all of them put together, is going to try it. The Saudi royal family has started a not-for-profit organization called the Hevolution Foundation that plans to spend up to $1 billion a year of its oil wealth supporting basic research on the biology of aging and finding ways to extend the number of years people live in good health, a concept known as "health span."
The foundation hasn't yet made a formal announcement, but the scope of its effort has been outlined at scientific meetings and is the subject of excited chatter among aging researchers, who hope it will underwrite large human studies of potential anti-aging drugs. The idea, popular among some longevity scientists, is that if you can slow the body's aging process, you can delay the onset of multiple diseases and extend the healthy years people are able to enjoy as they grow older. The fund is going to give grants for basic scientific research on what causes aging, just as others have done, but it also plans to go a step further by supporting drug studies, including trials of "treatments that are patent expired or never got commercialized."
The fund is authorized to spend up to $1 billion per year indefinitely, and will be able to take financial stakes in biotech companies. By comparison, the division of the US National Institute on Aging that supports basic research on the biology of aging spends about $325 million a year. Hevolution hasn't announced what projects it will back, but people familiar with the group say it looked at funding a $100 million X Prize for age reversal technology and has reached a preliminary agreement to fund the TAME trial, a test of the diabetes drug metformin in several thousand elderly people.