Progress Towards Rejuvenation as a Matter of Investment versus a Matter of Time

It is not hard to argue that there is too little investment in progress towards the treatment of aging as a medical condition. Collectively, the underlying mechanisms of degenerative aging are the cause of two-thirds of human mortality, and likely a somewhat greater fraction of loss of function, suffering, and pain. The cost of that mortality is vast, no matter how one likes to model the value of a human life, or a year spent alive in good health. This is much the same argument that can be made for greater investment in medical research in general. Medical research funding as a whole is a very, very tiny fraction of the costs that coping with currently incurable, unmanageable conditions impose upon us. But our species isn't really all that rational when it comes to collective action, whether or not the topic is saving our lives.

It seems inevitable that the urge for scientific progress will at some point lead to the development of impressive rejuvenation therapies. Rejuvenation is just a special case of medicine, which is just a special case of control over complex molecular systems. The ideal of achieving meaningful progress towards that broader goal is entrenched into the scientific and technological culture of the past century; it seems likely to continue. Today's cutting edge technology demonstrations in exerting fine control over aspects of our cellular biochemistry will be commonplace building blocks in the toolkit in three decades, and ancient history in six decades. But inevitability over the longer term certainly doesn't translate to inevitability on useful timescales, such as sometime before you or I become too old or too dead to benefit from novel approaches to controlling the processes that drive aging.

In the short term, there are always challenges inherent in selling investors on a plan of action, in the obstacles and costs imposed by regulators, in the perverse incentives operating in the pharma industry, in persuading people to support the cause, in the right entrepreneurs having the right ideas and connecting with the right scientists. One can throw as much funding as one likes at a problem, but many component parts of the intricate dance involving many different humans trying to make progress on a given problem simply can't be compressed to much below a few years. In the present regulatory system, and culture of science, it is always going to take more than a decade to move from lab to widespread availability for most ultimately successful programs, even given many well-funded, competing factions working on their versions of a solution.

Curing aging is a question of investment, not time

"When you think about treating aging, what we're really talking about is treating this whole range of different diseases - cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia - all of these things are caused by the aging process. So, there's a huge opportunity to make a big difference in the world. If these drugs can potentially slow down or reverse the aging process, then they ultimately have a market of every living human,. You can imagine a situation where everyone over the age of 50 or 60, once they've accumulated enough of whatever age-related change your drug is targeting, will want to start using that medication. It's going to be a completely new paradigm for medical treatment, and it's a huge opportunity for investors."

Of course, investing in longevity isn't as simple as it sounds - the field is vast and diverse, with hundreds of companies targeting different hallmarks, mechanisms, and drivers of aging. Andrew Steele's hope is that investment will also extend into the basic science needed to advance some of these areas to the point where potential treatments are ready to turn into biotech or pharma endeavors. "I believe these treatments will often turn out to be complementary to other areas of longevity development. I often talk about a cure for aging, but that doesn't mean I think it's going to be a single pill - we're probably going to have dozens of different approaches to tackle lots of different age-related changes. So, I'd really encourage investors to go out and try and find some of these other age-related changes that aren't getting aren't getting quite so much limelight."

Longevity science is a field where predictions about timeframes to achieving certain milestones are often bandied around. It's a practice that Andrew Steele feels is unhelpful. "I think the way people often try and give their predictions as a certain number of years away is a bit wrongheaded. I think we should really think about developments in science as being a certain investment away from fruition." Essentially there are a certain number of "nerd hours" between where we are now and getting to the point of being able to treat the aging process sufficiently well to bring it under medical control. And those nerd hours cost money. "I don't know how much money that's necessarily going to involve - it's hard to look at current levels of investment and multiply that up. But what I do know is, the more we invest, the faster a lot of this science can progress."


As far as writers are concerned, I, for one, prefer Aleister Crowley over Andrew Steele.


Teach us Your secret, Master! yap my Yahoos.

Then for the hardness of their hearts, and for the softness of their heads, I taught them Magick.

But... alas!

Teach us Your real secret, Master! how to become invisible, how to acquire love, and oh! beyond all, how to make gold.

But how much gold will you give me for the Secret of Infinite Riches?

Then said the foremost and most foolish: Master, it is nothing; but here is an hundred thousand pounds.

This did I deign to accept, and whispered in his ear this secret:


Aleister Crowley
Liber CCCXXXIII The Book of Lies 

Posted by: Jones at July 4th, 2023 3:17 PM

I hope someone is loading all the aging related studies into the permanent (not session) memory (in short supply for caasual users) of GPT 4. I think you would be shocked by the insights it would be capable of generating.

Posted by: Tom Schaefer at July 10th, 2023 2:51 PM
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