‘Aging is solvable’ – longevity film documents battle against human aging

New documentary explores the inner workings of the top longevity startups and how they are transforming the landscape of human aging.

The human lifespan is about 76 years – but how much of that life is happy? Is healthy? Is lived? VC firm NFX puts that figure at about 64, pointing to 12 years (and often more) lost to frailty, neurodegeneration and immunosenescence.

The process of aging is at the core of this loss – but we are in the middle of a transition. Scientific research is tackling aging itself, finding technologies and therapies that can shift the paradigm from sickcare to healthcare and from healthcare to prevention.

Now a new film documents this mission to extend human healthspan, delving into the workings of startups and the vision of their founders. NFX’s The Future of Longevity visits the LessDeath/Longevity Biotech Fellowship summer camp, the Buck Institute and various companies and institutions, hearing from Joe Betts-LaCroix, Mark Hamalainen, Nathan Cheng and Eric Verdin, among others. (And it’s embedded in this article for your viewing pleasure!)

Longevity.Technology: For San Francisco-based NFX, 2023 can be viewed as the beginning of a landmark decade for longevity companies. NFX invests in seed and pre-seed companies, seeking out visionaries and founders, and in its bio focus area, it is aware that founders who really see aging as a disease have the potential to revolutionize the longevity space. The company has 23 unicorns to its credit, and has invested in Mammoth Biosciences, ResistanceBio and Twist Bioscience.

NFX is aware that the body of geroscience research is growing at a vast rate and that researchers are moving faster and more precisely in that space. This time of coalescence inspired NFX to go out into the field and document this explosion.

NFX’s new documentary ranges from the middle of the woods in Nevada City, to the preeminent aging research institutions in the US – and as you might imagine, it’s one heck of a ride.

Omri Amirav-Drory, General Partner, NFX Bio, says for NFX, longevity means moving from sickcare to healthcare, staying healthy and preventing the diseases of aging.

“Cancer, frailty, infection – if you get rid of these diseases one-by-one, you stay young and healthy. And how big is the market? The market is everyone! So, the call is for passionate founders to come to solve the root cause of these diseases. We all want to stay healthier, all want to stay younger, for longer.

“Aging is solvable – we can solve this issue.”

“The greatest risk factor for the biggest diseases now, whether it’s heart failure or lung failure, the failure of the immune system, liver failure, is aging, the biggest risk factor is aging. And it’s not just a correlation – it’s actually causation.”
Dr Matthew ‘Oki’ O’Connor, Cyclarity

“Aging is a extremely complicated problem. It’s by far the most difficult thing that humans have tried to engineer a solution to – much harder than going to the moon or nuclear fusion, even. And so, I think developing new tools and new modalities that are actually up to the challenge is the important direction to work on right now.”
Mark Hamalainen, LessDeath, Longevity Biotech Fellowship

“There’s definitely been an explosion of interest and funding, tons of headlines, maybe a little hype, let’s say. Longevity biotech is still a very tiny industry if you compare it to even just biotech alone … The US made it a priority to do something about beating the Russians to the moon, because this was a matter of freedom and democracy – these ideals, these values that the Americans held dear. What would it look like if humanity actually made an all-out effort to fight aging?”
Nathan Cheng, Longevity Biotech Fellowship

“I think everyone is uncomfortable with the idea of their own aging and death. And in America and the west generally, youth and beauty is on this pedestal. And so, there’s all these social things which mean that we put aging in a box that we don’t want to think about, and put death in a box that we don’t want to think about.”
Dr Brianna Stubbs, Buck Institute for Research on Aging

“Aging is a process. Longevity is fighting it, basically. And we think about it at multiple levels. We’ve more than doubled our life expectancy. In 1850, we used to live to about 38 on average; today in the US, it’s about 78. Some people have asked me: ‘Why now?’. What happened now that there’s such an excitement bout the aging field? iF you think about the cycle of discovery, ultra-basic discoveries are made, and typically, there’s a lag of about 20 years until these discoveries can slowly make their way into the clinic. And we’re right at that transition. That’s why we’re so excited about what we’re doing.”
Dr Eric Verdin, Buck Institute for Research on Aging

“We’re at an amazing time in the development of biotech where the tools have gotten good, finally. Aging biology is a valid discipline. It’s go time. Everything’s aligned.

“But the interesting thing about aging biology is that there are a smaller number of aging mechanisms than there are age-related diseases, such that if you intervene in one age-related mechanism, you can prevent or ameliorate multiple downstream age-related diseases. So, as a way for society to focus its resources, because right now, spending 20% of our GDP on healthcare creates a ridiculous waste. I think we could spend a quarter of that if we were focusing our therapeutics on age-related diseases. Right now, there’s only x number of dollars in the healthy longevity space. And so, my mission is to spend that in the highest-leverage way to create the most benefit for humanity.
Joe Betts-LaCroix, Retro Biosciences