The brand new firm, integrated within the US and within the UK earlier this yr, will set up a number of institutes in locations together with the Bay Space, San Diego, Cambridge, UK and Japan, and is recruiting a big cadre of college scientists with lavish salaries and the promise that they’ll pursue unfettered blue-sky analysis on how cells age and easy methods to reverse that course of.
Some individuals briefed by the corporate have been instructed that its traders embrace Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest particular person, who stepped down as CEO of Amazon in July and weeks later risked his life by leaping right into a rocket capsule to succeed in outer area. Milner and his spouse Julia confirmed via a spokesperson they’re traders in Altos via a basis.
Altos is for certain to attract comparisons to Calico Labs, a long life firm introduced in 2013 by Google co-founder, Larry Web page. Calico additionally employed elite scientific figures and gave them beneficiant budgets, though it’s been questioned whether or not the Google spinout has made a lot progress. Calico has additionally began a lab whose focus is reprogramming; it printed its first preprint on the subject this yr.
Among the many scientists stated to be becoming a member of Altos are Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, a Spanish biologist on the Salk Institute, in La Jolla, California, who has received notoriety for analysis mixing human and monkey embryos and who has predicted that human lifespans might be elevated by 50 years. Salk declined to remark.
Additionally becoming a member of is Steve Horvath, a UCLA professor and developer of a “organic clock” that may precisely measure human growing old. Shinya Yamanaka, who shared a 2012 Nobel Prize for the invention of reprogramming, can be an unpaid senior scientist and can chair the corporate’s scientific advisory board.
Yamanaka’s breakthrough discovery was that with the addition of simply 4 proteins, now referred to as Yamanaka elements, cells will be instructed to revert to a primitive state with the properties of embryonic stem cells. By 2016, Izpisúa Belmonte’s lab had utilized these elements to total dwelling mice, attaining indicators of age reversal and main him to time period reprogramming a possible “elixir of life.”
The outcomes of such mouse experiments, whereas tantalizing, had been additionally horrifying. Relying on how a lot reprogramming occurred, some mice developed ugly embryonic tumors known as teratomas, at the same time as others confirmed indicators their tissues had grow to be youthful.
“Though there are various hurdles to beat, there’s enormous potential,” Yamanaka stated in an electronic mail, by which he confirmed his position in Altos.
It’s been stated that younger individuals dream of being wealthy, and wealthy individuals dream of being younger. That paradox is one that individuals like Milner, age 59, and Bezos, who’s 57 years outdated, could really feel acutely. Forbes presently ranks Bezos because the world’s richest particular person, with a web price of round $200 billion. Milner’s wealth is estimated at $4.8 billion.
Bezos Expeditions, the funding workplace of Amazon’s founder, didn’t reply to an electronic mail looking for remark.
Individuals acquainted with the formation of Altos say that originally Milner’s curiosity in reprogramming was philanthropic. After the assembly at his dwelling, a non-profit known as the Milky Approach Analysis Basis sponsored by Milner awarded three-year grants, of $1 million a yr, to a number of longevity researchers. The proposals had been thought of by an advisory board together with Yamanaka and Jennifer Doudna, who shared a Breakthrough Prize in 2015 and later a Nobel in 2020 for her co-discovery of CRISPR genome modifying.