Tuesday, April 13, 2021

This Is A Fool's Errand - But That's Not Going To Stop Them From Trying

robbreport |  It might be an exaggeration to say BioViva CEO Liz Parrish believes death is optional, but for her, Asprey’s goal of living to 180 shows a distinct lack of ambition. “If you can reach homeostasis in the body,” Parrish says, “where it’s regenerating itself just a little bit faster than it’s degrading, then what do you die of? An accident or natural disaster, probably. There’s no expiration date at 90 or 100 years old.”

Tall, blond and fit, Parrish cuts a strikingly youthful figure at 49—one that might convince you to order whatever she’s having. But, like Asprey, she has received criticism from the longevity research community for becoming “patient zero” in her own experimental drug trial, aimed at halting aging at the cellular level. In 2015, Parrish underwent telomerase and follistatin gene therapies in Bogotá, Colombia. The procedures involved receiving around a hundred injections of a cocktail of genes and a virus modified to deliver those new genes into her body’s cells. The objective was to prevent age-related muscle loss and lengthen her telomeres: the “caps” at the end of our chromosomes. Scientists have identified their unraveling as not only a marker of aging but also a potential cause of age-related decline.

Parrish told the media about her clandestine experiment and has published periodic updates on her condition in the five years since, and she reports that she has indeed increased her muscle mass and lengthened her telomeres. Parrish’s punk-rock approach stems from her conviction that the medical-research community—both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and researchers who aren’t business-minded—is moving too slowly, with too much red tape, when it comes to advancing aging therapeutics. But gene therapy is a relatively new area of medicine that brings with it a host of new risks, including cancer, severe immune reactions and infections caused by the viral vector used to deliver the drug.

Parrish downplays such worries. “There may be risks,” she tells Robb Report. “But the known risk is that you’re 100 percent likely to die. So you have to decide for yourself if the potential benefit outweighs that.”

Humans have always aspired to find the fountain of youth, so people might be skeptical about the fact that anti-aging technologies are working now,” says British investor and businessman Jim Mellon. “But the fact is that this is finally happening, and we need to seize the moment.” Mellon cofounded Juvenescence, a three-year-old pharmaceutical company that’s investing in multiple technologies simultaneously to increase the odds of bringing winning products to market.

Mellon, 63, has made his fortune betting on well-timed investment opportunities, and he predicts that a new “stock-market mania” for life extension is just around the corner. “This is like the internet dial-up phase of longevity biotech,” he enthuses. “If you’d invested in the internet in the very early days, you’d be one of the richest people on the planet. We’re at that stage now, so the opportunity for investors is huge.” According to a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, he’s not wrong: The market for technologies to increase human life span is projected to grow sixfold to $610 billion in just the next five years.