Interview: The investment landscape for ageing therapeutics
Sergey Young, Founder, Longevity Vision Fund
Interviewed by: Terry O’Dwyer, Chief Executive Officer, Longevity Leaders
TERRY: Tell us about your views on investing into ageing science? How do you keep up with the longevity investment landscape?
SERGEY: With all the fast, technological progress taking place in the longevity space and the advent of technologies such as AI transforming the longevity landscape, I use the “3 Horizons of Longevity” framework to map the longevity & ageing investment landscape. Horizon One represents today - technology currently available that has the potential to expand our lifespans to 100 years, such as DIY diagnostics, wearables, digital healthcare delivery, medical software & apps. Horizon Two represents tomorrow, the emerging technology with the potential to expand our lifespans to 150 years, such as genome therapy and editing, stem cell therapy, nanorobots, AI- based diagnostics or drug discovery and smart hospital. Horizon Three represents the future, things like age reversal, brain-computer integration, avatars and Internet of the Body.
TERRY: What major changes or breakthroughs have you observed in this field? What do you think is changing the game?
SERGEY: We invest across all three horizons at Longevity Vision Fund, but mainly focus on the first two, which offer the most immediate breakthroughs. Freenome is an example of one of our portfolio companies that is changing the game. They are an AI-based blood (liquid biopsy) testing for early detection and proactive intervention of cancer without the need of unnecessary, more invasive biopsies. Early diagnosis of certain cancers means a recovery rates exceeding ninety three percent.
Another is LyGenesis, an organ regeneration company that uses lymph nodes to regrow functioning organs within the patient’s own body. This has the potential to completely eradicate the problem of organ rejection in transplantation patients and solve the unmet demand for organ supply.
Finally, there is Insilico Medicine, a next-generation AI drug discovery and development company. The company’s core competence is the identification and validation of novel disease targets. Insilico’s latest key achievement is the demonstration of Insilico’s capability to design, synthesize and validate novel drug-like molecules in just 46 days, compared to the 2-3 years typically required by big pharma companies without this technology
TERRY: What should everyone know about longevity and living to 100? How do you attain this goal?
SERGEY: People don’t always believe that living to 100 is attainable or realistic, that being a centenarian is becoming the new norm.
In terms of attaining longevity, there is no magic potion – if there was only one solution, we would have already found it! However, taking some base steps will ensure that you live long and well. For example, something as simple as getting regular annual check-ups. Getting diagnosed early can extend your life by 10 years or more. Even the most serious and fatal diseases are treatable if diagnosed early.
Quit smoking now. Everyone already knows the health dangers of smoking, so I won’t go into it here, but keep in mind that life expectancy for smokers is 5-10 years shorter than for non- smokers. Quitting smoking before turning 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking related disease by 90%.
Finally, decrease your calories. Intermittent fasting and a heavily plant-based diet cutting out added sugars and processed foods has been shown to positively impact life expectancy. Apart from that, habits like taking at least 10,000 steps a day, engaging in quality sleep and practicing meditation will take you even closer to living to a happy and healthy 100.
TERRY: You are the author of Longevity @ Work program. Can you tell us more about it?
SERGEY: Longevity @ Work is the first corporate longevity program in the world, the aim of which is to create healthy longevity-friendly environments. It is delivered as part of my mission to extend healthy lifespans of 1 billion people. I have already launched the first pilot program at a large international financial organization of 300,000 employees, which has delivered amazing results such as 8M years collectively added to employees’ lifespans, +100M GBP additional revenue due to the reduction of employees’ sick days by 1 day and +15% increase in the happiness index of employees.
I now aim to launch this program in the UK and the USA with startups and SMEs, as most people in the UK work at these rather than large corporations. This has the potential to improve health and longevity on a national level. Participation focusses on the most impactful steps to maximizing longevity including fighting deadly monsters with annual health checkups, quitting smoking, driving responsibly, cutting calories by 25%, eating organic and unprocessed food, ensuring you walk 10,000 steps daily and enhancing your mind with regular meditation, tech-enhanced sleep and acts of kindness.
TERRY: You’re speaking at next year’s Longevity Leaders World Congress on the topic of the morality of immortality. Can you offer some insight about what this implies and why you think it is important?
SERGEY: People who know me, know that I plan to live to 200. This made me think carefully on the subject of immortality and its implications. If you had a choice of how long to live – what would you choose? Would you want to live forever if you could? This raises many deep questions and deserves a whole encyclopaedia on this topic altogether! In my talk I will address whether extending our lifespans is ethical and sustainable, if it would divide society and how we could bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. I will also paint a picture of what the world might look like once we all live to 200 – and hopefully, that’s a picture yourself or your kids will live to see!
This article is an extract from the Longevity Trends 2020 report.
The report captures Longevity Leaders' extensive research into this space, including the most important longevity trends of 2020 that businesses, policy makers, scientists and the general population need to be aware of.
You can download a free copy here