Race to “De-age”

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A recent Vox article says that some wealthy billionaires are engaged in what is called the Rejuvenation Olympics, an online leaderboard, where they are competing to “reverse” their age.

Participants compete not on physical abilities but on how quickly and by how much they can slow their “biological age.”

They’re not actually reverting to a more youthful version of themselves — that’s not biologically possible. Rather, these competitors are racing to see who can age the slowest; as the Rejuvenation Olympics website quips, “You win by never crossing the finish line.”

Bryan Johnson, a 46-yrs-old tech millionaire, was leading the chart at the time writing. He reportedly spending at least $2 million on reducing his biological age. Other tech billionaires are also said to have expressed interest in the project.

OpenAI founder Sam Altman, meanwhile, recently invested $180 million in Retro Biosciences, a company vying to add a decade to the human lifespan. Some of the most famous names in the death-defying sector are old: Calico Labs, a longevity-research subsidiary of Alphabet, was launched by then-Google CEO Larry Page in 2013. Nor is it just Silicon Valley that’s excited about the prospect of living longer. Tally Health, a new biotech company co-founded by Harvard scientist David Sinclair — who is something of a celebrity in the longevity community — boasts some Hollywood A-list investors: John Legend, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashton Kutcher, Pedro Pascal, and Zac Efron.

Michael Lustgarten, a Rejuvenation Olympics competitor who has a PhD in physiology and is a scientist at Tufts University’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, told Vox “Somebody’s got to blaze the trail, but there are also plenty of companies offering snake oil. The longevity community usually gets excited about snake oil — the latest supplement or the latest mouse study that extends lifespan.”

Another aging-expert Stuart Jay Olshansky, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Illinois Chicago, told Vox “It’s not possible to reverse your age. There’s validity to some of the work that’s going on in epigenetics that may be telling us something about the rate of aging. It’s not yet telling us about longevity.”

Olshansky adds “I’ve called the anti-aging industry the second-oldest profession. People made the same claims 2,000 years ago about some magical elixir that’s going to make you live longer and healthier. The difference is that the fountain of youth is now being pushed by a lot of people who have a lot of money — to make more money.”