The aging of the population in Saudi Arabia is something authorities are concerned about, which is why the Saudi royal family has started a non-profit organization called the Hevolution Foundation that plans to spend up to $1 billion a year of its oil wealth supporting basic research on the biology of aging and finding ways to extend the number of years that people live in good health, a concept known as a “health span.”
The fund is managed by Mehmood Khan, a former Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and former chief scientist at PespsiCo, who was recruited for the CEO job in 2020. “Our main goal is to extend healthy lifespan,” Khan said in an interview.
One of the bases of this policy is to prevent the population from having catastrophic illnesses and thus extend the healthy and more youthful years of the population.
“We need to translate that biology to move towards human clinical research. Ultimately, it won’t make a difference until something comes on the market that actually benefits patients,” says Khan.
Khan says the fund is authorized to spend up to $1 billion per year indefinitely, and will be able to take financial stakes in biotech companies.
Hevolution was established by royal order in December 2018, and its chairman is Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman. Also on the board are Evgeny Lebedev, a Russian-British businessman; American billionaire Ron Burkle; and Andrew Liveris, former CEO of Dow Chemical.
- Metformin: British doctors showed that diabetics who took it lived longer than expected, even longer than healthy people.
- Rapamycin: An immunosuppressant that has been shown to extend the lifespan of laboratory mice that has also been tested in companion dogs.