Wednesday, February 21

3,000 million dollars for eternal life: Altos Labs, the startup that dreams of cell reprogramming

Take note of this name: Altos Labs. Created in early 2021, this startup is bringing together an authentic “Dream Team” of scientists to achieve a most ambitious purpose: reverse cellular aging.

It has only been a year since its launch and today announced an important step: huge round of funding of 3,000 million dollars to try to revolutionize biotechnology and achieve cell reprogramming. The dream of eternal life is still far away, but Altos Labs is one of the most serious attempts to date to bring us closer to it.

With the support of billionaire investors like Jeff Bezos

The Series A round achieved by Altos Labs is among the largest in history, proof of the enormous expectations that are placed. The company does not explain who has invested so much money, but it points to Jeff Bezos, ex-CEO of Amazon, as one of the main investors and who would be behind this huge amount of money. as described MIT Technology ReviewAlong with Bezos is Yuri Milner, a Russian billionaire who in the past invested in Calico Labs, the startup dedicated to studying the longevity of Larry Page.

The objective of Altos Labs is “revitalize whole bodies of animals, ultimately, prolonging human life.” In the mouth of any other startup it might seem like pure smoke, but Altos Labs has assembled a team of top-level scientists, specialized in this area and where they have been offered salaries of more than 1 million dollars for them to agree to work.

Senior Scientists Labs

One of the chosen researchers is Juan Carlos Izpisua, director of the San Diego Institute of Science, former director of the Barcelona Center for Regenerative Medicine and one of the world’s leading experts in developmental biology. He is also known for his controversial work mixing human and primate cells in embryos.

Wolf Reik is a German molecular biologist and director of the Babraham Institute, specializing in epigenetics. Also participating are Peter Walker, professor at the University of California; Thore Graepel, Google DeepMind Principal Investigator and Professor at University College London and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2012, Shinya Yamanaka, for his discovery that “adult cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.”

Darwin's crooked lines: myths and truths of epigenetics

“It is clear from the work of Shinya Yamanaka, and many others since his initial discoveries, that cells have the ability to rejuvenate themselves, reset their epigenetic clocks, and erase damage from myriad stressors. These insights, combined with significant advances in a series of transformative technologies, inspired Altos to reinvent medical treatments where disease can be reversed in patients of any age.” Hal Barron, newly appointed CEO of this startup and former scientific director of GSK, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Along with Barron, in the management of Altos Labs is Rick Klausner, director del National Cancer Institute; Hans Bishop, CEO of the pharmaceutical company GRAIL and Ann Lee-Karlon, VP of Genentech. As we can see, powerful names with recognized experience in top-tier biotech companies. Among the advisers there is also biochemistry Jennifer Anne Doudna, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 for “the development of a method for gene editing” and pioneer of CRISPR.

In an interview with The country, Serrano Manual of the Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute, claimed that Altos Labs offered him between 5 and 10 times his current salary.

In recent years, different scientific research has been published in renowned journals. A pattern that has served as a basis for this research moves from the academic world to the business world, with the creation of Altos Labs.

At the moment there is no marked calendar or the intention of presenting any product or specific advance. According to the company, their intention is to continue developing “great science”. They know that any progress in rejuvenation would be worth billions, but we will have to settle for the fact that they are still a top level group of scientists gathered to explore cell regeneration and see if it’s possible to build a business around.

Image | Pawel Czerwinski