Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, has reportedly backed a mysterious Silicon Valley startup that is working on an “elixir of life” technology that could enable humans to “live forever”.
It is understood that the billionaire who founded Amazon in 1994 was among a group of high-profile investors funding the Northern California startup “Rejuvenation”. Founded earlier this year by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, Altos Labs is experimenting with so-called biological reprogramming technology. The technology, if proven effective, could extend a person’s life by 50 years, according to reports.
Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO earlier this summer and instead focused his attention on other projects, including spaceflight company Blue Origin.
He made headlines in late July when he flew to the edge of space aboard his New Shepard rocket.
It now appears that some of his attention has turned to Altos Labs, where researchers say they will try to return the cells to a “primitive” stem cell state, allowing them to heal and regenerate.
Manuel Serrano, a researcher at the company, told Technology Review, “Altos Labs’ philosophy is to do research driven by curiosity. This is what I know how to do and love to do. In this case, through a private company, we are free to be bold and explore. The goal is to understand Renewal. I would say that the idea of getting revenue in the future is there, but it’s not the immediate goal.”
Serrano has previously worked with stem cells through experiments with genetically modified mice.
As part of his research, Serrano and colleagues “reprogrammed” adult mice cells to behave like embryonic stem cells.
The research, which was published in the journal NatureScientists will one day develop regenerative therapies without the need to grow stem cells in a petri dish.
Other scientists involved in the project include Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of the Gene Expression Laboratories at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.
Earlier this year, Professor Belmonte and a team of researchers claimed to have created the world’s first human monkey embryo.
The controversial study kept hybrid embryos alive for up to 20 days in the laboratory.
The study’s authors claimed the research would help scientists better understand how early humans and primates evolved.
Altos Labs is said to be looking to establish research bases around the world, including Cambridge in the UK.
According to Technology Review, the company has already raised 195.9 million pounds ($270 million) to support the project.
This is not the first time that Bezos has invested in biotech companies.
He previously funded anti-aging company Unity Biotechnology, which designs drugs and treatments that can combat the worst effects of aging.
The company, which is also based in California, has secured funding of more than 217.6 million pounds ($300 million).
Nathaniel David, president of Unity Biotechnology, said in 2018. “Standards of osteoporosis care start with ibuprofen, then steroids, and then are accepted by most people as the standard of care: You’re old, that’s bad, and now you’re in pain for the rest of your life. But we think there’s A better way is to look through the lens of biological insight into why these diseases occur in the first place.”