Background on the Funding of Retro Biosciences, an Illustrative Slice of Life for the Longevity Industry and its Backers

Retro Biosciences is one of the better funded ventures focused on the treatment of aging to have emerged from the Bay Area centered science, advocacy, and venture communities. The story of how Retro Biosciences came to exist is illustrative of that community, and the way in which a strong interest in human longevity on the part of a few high net worth individuals has shifted in its focus over the past decade. Interested parties have expanded their activities from philanthropic funding of research, initially the only viable approach to make progress, to the addition of much larger investments in startup companies, growing as the biotechnology of treating aging advanced to the point at which it became possible to generate an industry around it.

When a startup called Retro Biosciences led by Joe Betts-LaCroix eased out of stealth mode in mid-2022, it announced it had secured $180 million to bankroll an audacious mission: to add 10 years to the average human life span. It had set up its headquarters in a raw warehouse space near San Francisco just the year before, bolting shipping containers to the concrete floor to quickly make lab space for the scientists who had been enticed to join the company. The entire sum was put up by Sam Altman, the 37-year-old startup guru and investor who is CEO of OpenAI. He says he's emptied his bank account to fund two other very different but equally ambitious goals: limitless energy and extended life span.

Altman's investment in Retro is among the largest ever by an individual into a startup pursuing human longevity. Altman has long been a prominent figure in the Silicon Valley scene, where he previously ran the startup incubator Y Combinator in San Francisco. Altman says he has been placing bets in areas where underlying trends make him think technologies that look impossible today might actually work relatively soon.

About eight years ago, Altman became interested in so-called "young blood" research. These were studies in which scientists sewed young and old mice together so that they shared one blood system. The surprise: the old mice seemed to be partly rejuvenated. In 2018, Y Combinator launched a special course for biotech companies, inviting those with "radical anti-aging schemes" to apply, but before long, Altman moved away from Y Combinator to focus on his growing role at OpenAI.

Then, in 2020, researchers in California showed they could achieve an effect similar to young blood by replacing the plasma of old mice with salt water and albumin. "Sam called me up and said 'Holy moly, did you see this plasma intervention paper?'" recalls Betts-LaCroix, who had once been the part-time biotech partner at Y Combinator and still leads a meetup for longevity enthusiasts. Betts-LaCroix agreed that it was cool and some company should pursue it. "How about I fund you to do it?" Altman said. But Betts-LaCroix was already working on a different longevity-related idea, cellular reprogramming. Altman's response: "Why don't you do all those things?" Betts-LaCroix recalls saying. "I'll do it. I'll build a multi-program company around aging biology, and that is the big play. He was like, 'Great - let's go for it.'"



Well it looks like plasma diluation will be given a serious test as a means of removing some of the damage underlying aging. I hope they succeed and make lots of money.

Posted by: jimofoz at March 16th, 2023 11:12 AM

Hi there! Just a 2 cents. TL DR: (/S).

''...audacious mission: to add 10 years to the average human life span.''

I don't want to be a party pooper but the first word of this quote is -----overstated.

Audacious? I mean, ok, we can't do it...till audacious it is; in that sense...

But, let me repeat...

Audacious ? ?

No. Not at all. This is why we are in the mess we are and nothing advances much; and why, the quest now is the 'quest to improve healthy healthspan in order to make healthy aging'.

Audacious -------- wow (not). And before someone says: ''You're so difficult (to please), notthing is ever good enough for you; what will it take? You could never do better...than them.''

True, I could never do better. But, I am not these experts. And, it is worrying that the experts are concentrating - on Audacious - 10 year extension of lifespan.

It's not audacious; it's Worrying. Because right now, 10 years is nothing; ok...10
10 years; we'll take it (instead of nothing/is better than nothing; look, I understand...researchers don't want to 'give false hopes' if they fail...they are being 'reasonable' with seeking 'low results'...).

But, is THAT ALL? that all...there is to it?.... is that it? ....that's it? that's all?...

180 MILLION OF dollars for this....mind-blowing-(dly bad)......I mean, how can they not see the futility of it (it surpasses me). They wil probably say: ''And you want to live like an Immortal / that it; 1000 years lifespan...for when, right?''

10 years....we are kind of' far...from the 150 or even the 500 or the 1000....

It's just flabbergasting and is almost a ''that's all we can do.....we can't do any could take that 10 yearse lifespan...and sh*t up. (and then, later, die).''

This is the definition of Fatalism to the extreme. And Self-defeatism.

''no is positive and non-fatalist and very 'non-self-defeatist'....we are a WHOLE 10 years with in extra...and BE HAPPY.'' ''you will be happy -- by force...we force u 'to be happy' about it''.

I don't write anymore here in general...because the news accumulate one after another:

''Calorie Restriction....calorie restriction...senolytics...healthy living...healthy dying...healthy - for dying...''

I think that COVID put a serious wrench in the whole biodomain; it accelerated the speed at which they can make trials and studies...
Except, that it also caused people to put all their time on healthy/healthyness---because COVID was all about health.

So, LEV, longevity and living beyond 150.....that was lost in the fray/translation....during COVID.
Ressources/funds were put towards/transfered to defeating viruses (by brevity/immidiacy/imperativity of curing the virus in the moment to save lives)....and biogerontology suffered greatly/was put aside as 'some outlandish goal'. Thus, aging, took a backbench. Seriously.

I read studies on Aging Impact/Wiley...and like...they are trying to defeat cancer...a good thing...but the LONGEVITY/ANTI-AGING/REVERSING AGING/REJUVENATION...are gone almost.

Sure, sometimes you see some study about some researchers trying to reverse aging via epigenetic reprogramming...but it is so nebulous and ''carott on a stick'' / ''pie in the sky'' know like a rabbit with a cane on its back and a carrot attached to it - in front of it...and it 'tries' to get the carrott..but it never can. (again, this is akin, to the 'mirage/oasis'...we SEEM to approach and progress...but the reality is more dire/sad; advancement as stalled and 'progress' now is babysteps babysteps...and it feels like climbing (to the tip of) the Mount Everest and never making it/falling..).

Like, AdG who named his new venture (his) LEV...which is cool...but's so 'carrott dangling' 'oasis/ the horizon'...he even had to leave the whole SENSE thing...
like..does that inspire confidence in you..when said ''in 20 years we have robust rejuvenation''.

Robust was suppose to be LEV or something close to 'robust' means
10 year of healthy lifespan, to healthy age....until you die of healthy aging.

Just a 2 cents.

PS: If we don't wake up and put these experts on the very 'heated bench', it will remain a very 'Quaint' affair...Meaning - Forget - getting LEV or even living above 150....Anytime soon; and possibly in your lifetime. And that is EXTREMELY sad. The more people continue to be Fatalist and say : ''we die...embrace too will die...nothing you can do about it....take those 10 years...and be happy''. The more, we will never see rejuvenation in our lifetime; because people and funds are quite related...fatalism does not make much/help for 'funding' makes people think : ''ok, we will make 10 YEARSS lifespan Achievement! People will love it.''..
Then, trust me, no one alive will live much beyond 120; it is farcical to think so, when now we are 'Aiming' at 10 years of healthy aging/healthspan's the most despairing thing I am reading (or even, in my whole life...). People say: ''you are exaggerating...we die anyway...take taht 10 yaers and sht up; you will never be immortal; accept it, 10 is all you get, so stop complaining and live those beautiful 10 extra years''.
Well. Thank You for that and your great concern. Today, there is a huge problem (due to fatalism rampant) is that people want to Decide for you How Long 'you suppose to live'....and that is a personal choice; never by anyone - else - than you - in you...because no one lives in you; than you. (And it's a bit like abortion..with women : ''Do women decide of their child...since it is birthed in Their Sole Body...or do men have a say/right on the child since he fathers them 'partly'...''

Many women scream that no one decides of what happens in their body and the child they give birth think people will let others decide 'how long you live..because 'you cost too much to live 'too long''...'' (à la China doing 'child curbing' would do 'elder senior curbing'; sending eldest people to their deaths - while Still alive - because they live 'too long'/too costly 'to keep alive' (government explodes/no money) and 'overpopultion on earht'...more ethics your way).
Same thing with COVID...''do you have a say --- if you Can or can Refuse the Vaccine''...many people said: ''we don't care you little personal are forced to take the Vaccine..because your rights end where our you are a minority/ don'T speak for All of Us/ we force you to take the vaccine..since you live in society; you have NO CHOICE of choosing or refusing the vaccine..''. This is in parallel to women deciding or refusing to abort a child when pregnant. This is in parallel to people wanting to decide 'how long you can live in society..until you a burden/$$$ and lived 'too long'' (like immortal people) and thus, you have to die 'for others'...because the life/death cycle must need to be replaced and the government/tax system can't work with eternal people/immortal people who never die -- they will cost 'forever'...if people start deciding for others you can expect WW3, WW4, WW5...especially, about the Life of someone; just like COVID cannot force people to take a vaccine, by coercion because if you do; then, these people have no choice - personal choice - anymore; it is only a majority-decided decision (collective decision; not personal); and that is dangerous because if people start deciding 'in collectivity' 'how long we are suppose to live -- 120 years or so''...then you will see war...because what will happen to these people 'who live too' long'....gas chamber like WW2? send oldest people to some 'extermination camp' (like fascist or communist groups... during WW2); trust me, that will never happen because then; it would pit the commoner vs the gov and everybody else 'for the gov'....this is Exactly what happened during COVID (freedom convoy with people voicing their anger..that they cannot have A CHOICE to have the vaccine...or not). But it will Million of Times worse...because people will not allow others to kill them (or in the case of was seen that COVID itself, the virus, would kill others..if someone was unvaxxed; just like a plague; someone 'carries' teh virus/plague and 'propagates' it 'moving around' everywhere and giving it to other 'knowingly'/like they use the analogy 'drunk driving'; a drunk driver knows..he/she is drunk..and knows..should not drive (While drunk); but he/she may do it anyway...and take his/her risks.. with it (and the risk of causin death to a car accident driving drunk))). It means, that in the future, just like we experience with COVID events of the last 3 years...we will see a strong Combat/Extremism/Polarization...between people; a divide.
Where some people will be' for 'covid vax'...and some won't...again; in this case, it will be some people will be for 'killing oldest people who don't die anymoer'...and some others will be against...because they havE NO intention of dying anytime soon - no matter if 176 years...
it is Their continue to live - for however long - they wish - and Can live.
That means WW3, wars ahead. Like COVID, which was a 'vaxx / antivaxx' 'pro-life vs pro-death' (abortion' of child) of a pregnant woman. Thus, Individualism/minoritism vs Majoritism.
What rights do you have as ''individual'' anymore....if all 'decide for you' and the gov 'decides for you'. The Majority/Community...decided for you; you have no more say -- about you/yourself..your life. (this is called communism/facism/autocratism/dictatorialism/totalitarism also). Anyway sorry for rant(ing) rambling..but we're there now; if you don't see it; you are oblivious or playing 'ostrich head in the sand' (just ignoring the truth). Sometimes, it's better to just ignore the truth (because it is the worse/hurts).

Posted by: CANanonymity at March 16th, 2023 9:11 PM
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