Who will find the fountain of youth? The race is on and should accelerate in 2023. Between cell reprogramming or destruction of zombie cells, inventory.
Can we find (almost) eternal youth? This dream has long been associated with a dream of avid transhumanists or lunatic billionaires. But in recent years, several research teams have been working seriously on the topic. Some have even formed startups hoping to launch products that will be available to the general public.
Destroy our old cells
Research : As they age, our cells enter a state called senescence. Sometimes called “zombies,” these cells are at the root of the chronic inflammation in our tissues that causes aging. Therefore, to avoid aging, some researchers are considering simply removing these cells that accumulate in the body. This is especially true for the team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA. In 2017, she proved that drugs that eliminate senescent cells can increase the lifespan of mice by 30%. The technology was ranked as one of the most promising by the review MIT Technology Review in 2020.
The company follows : Mayo Clinic is behind startup Unity Biotechnology, which is developing treatments called senolytic to treat certain eye diseases and pulmonary fibrosis. About twenty other companies are active in the niche of destroying senescent cells Wired. The American magazine estimates that in 2023 we should see a drug testing this technology on humans.
Research : Instead of slowing down the aging process, why not make it completely reversible? That’s the idea of researchers working on it reprogram cell. Your goal is to “reset” in some way. As cellular reprogramming involves the rejuvenation of tissues through the regeneration of aging cells. Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka is a pioneer in this field. In 2007, he and his team demonstrated that, thanks to a mixture of proteins, it is possible to return a cell to its embryonic stage in a short time, to take it back in time. Other works followed, notably that of Jean-Marc Lemaitre in France or Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte in the United States, which proved that it is possible to rejuvenate mice by applying and complementing the Yamanaka method.
The company follows : If this technology is particularly talked about, it’s because it’s backed with billions of dollars. Altos Lab, an American start-up reportedly funded by Jeff Bezos, among others, with $3 billion MIT Technology Review, was launched in January 2022 with hopes of developing an elixir of youth through cellular reprogramming. The young company has recruited experts from the estate, including Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, who believes that theWe could increase human life expectancy by about 50 years. Altos Lab isn’t the only one working on this topic. Other companies include New Limit, Life Biosciences, Turn Biotechnologies, AgeX Therapeutics and Shift Bioscience.
playing with genes
Research : In 1993, molecular biologist Cynthia Kenyon and her team managed to double the lifespan of a worm by deleting one of its genes. That meant twenty extra days for the worm, but the researcher was already daring to compare it to humans. “Imagine you are 140 years old! ‘ she hinted at the end of her title. His work has opened a new field of research dedicated to identifying genetic markers linked to age or, on the contrary, to longevity in certain animal species such as the whale and the naked mole rat .
company to follow: Attempting to prolong the life of dogs in order to later attack humans. This thesis defends Loyal, a young Californian company founded by the young and brilliant researcher Celine Halioua. Loyal, which has raised $58 million, is trying to identify the markers of aging in dogs so they can better manage them. The startup has developed two drugs, the workings of which remain rather vague for the time being. One is to be given to small-breed dogs, which have been in clinical trials since September, and another for large breeds, due to be tested this year. The startup plans its first commercializations in 2024, subject to FDA validation of its products. By working on dogs first, Celine Halioua hopes to break down the psychological barriers that are slowing down the fight against aging, she explains Wired. Because their way of life has much more in common with that of humans than with that of laboratory rats.