First Human Enhancement Conference calls for enhancement ecosystem

Forging a path to enhanced human potential and accelerated healthspan: Insights from London’s landmark gathering.

On Tuesday, the first conference on human enhancement was held in London. While one might think that a top university or research institution might have been an appropriate setting, the conference was held in the House of Lords, a location that actually proved to be extremely apt, given that a key takeaway from the event was the need to forge a human enhancement ecosystem in which government and regulators are key players.

The conference was hosted by Lord Stone of Blackheath who had heard Dr Aron D’Souza, the founder and president of Enhanced Games, speaking on the radio about the new sporting competition that aims to supercharge the “Faster, Higher, Stronger” ethos of the Olympics by adding performance enhancing substances into the mix. The Enhanced Games, while not a clinical trial by any means, will provide a wealth of data about how different substances can improve critical biological pathways and performance of organs. Thomas Rex Dolan, head of Executive Operations for Enhanced Games said the competitors at the games would be “the most measured athletes in history.” The games will also spotlight the idea that human performance, healthspan and lifespan can be improved – enhanced longevity.

Longevity.Technology: The conference convened 45 leading scientists, clinicians, thought-leaders, academics, entrepreneurs, Olympians, Paralympians, government officials and investors to examine the latest advancements in medtech and biotech and discuss how performance enhancements can support public policy aims in healthcare, sports and economic productivity. A small number of journalists were also invited and Longevity.Technology was delighted to be part of it.

As well as a detailed objective setting from D’Souza, the day featured panel discussions on brain health and neurological enhancements, longevity, performance medicine, cardiac health and profiling, and driving reform.

The day kicked off with the proposition that enhancement is the next stage of human evolution. Evolution is a competition for survival that pushes organisms to improve, and since most humans do not experience habitat and food risks, the risk of aging and disease are what we must tackle, and we must be active participants in the process, taking action to enhance our own biology.

D’Souza made the point that the UK is a world leader when it comes to talent and innovation, but falls short when it comes to capitalizing on this. In order to change things up ahead of the oncoming longevity storm, he said the UK Government should appoint a Minister for Enhancement and enable the UK to properly frame a new enhancement ecosystem that will lead to increased healthspan and longevity.

One of the members of the Longevity Panel was Canadian entrepreneur and investor Harish Consul, Founder of Ocgrow Ventures.  Consul has become the latest member of Longevity.Technology’s new Advisory Board, and we caught up with him after the panel to get his take on the day.

“This conference has come just at the right time – we’re at an inflection point. I firmly believe that the longevity space is the biggest thing going forward here – we’re entering this world of super intelligence, it’s affecting multiple verticals with exponential speed, and it’s a very, very exciting time to be alive.

“It’s fascinating that there are hundreds of companies in this space right now, right around the world, and there are so many new technologies emerging, and these are also enabling society to begin the transition from sickcare and healthcare into prevention and enhanced healthspan. Once we change the mindset towards personalized and predictive medicine, we’ll be very quickly living in a different world, and this conference spotlights just what can be achieved when we accept the range of tools available to us and work together to create even more advanced ones.”

We also caught up with Dr Oliver Zolman, cofounder of the Rejuvenation Olympics and the doctor directing Bryan Johnson‘s reverse-aging charge, who was also on that panel.

He told us that accurate measurement and diagnostics are key to successful biological enhancement. “There are many hundreds of therapies and many tens of thousands of randomized controlled trials that show improvements in surrogate markers,” he said.

“The best way of reversing aging for sure may well lie in some sort of replacement strategy – that way you are solving all the unknowns that may change with age in one organ. Advancement in various technologies will be needed for that. If we can’t get to that, we’ll be relying on a shotgun approach that is a combination of gene therapies, cell therapies and biologics and lifestyle modifications. However we move forward, the goal is to prove in every organ that people are 60 at age 80, using new gold standard organ clocks.”

Olympian Christina Smith is a Canadian bobsledder who competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics, and who is also part of the Enhanced Games athletes advisory commission. She told Longevity.Technology that some sporting bodies frown on practices that while legal and within regulations, are felt to blur the line.

“It was upsetting that they had such narrow minds. I was always looking at natural ways to improve my performance and speed my recovery. You cannot slow down science, and things are moving onto the next step and into the 21st century – today’s talk around human enhancement is part of that. People are getting into longevity and antiaging and as athletes and role models, we are conscious that we should be stepping into that, helping to educate and contribute to the conversation about prevention and healthspan. It’s time to bring enhancement out of the shadows.”

This sentiment was echoed by Christian Angermayer, who, together with Aron D’Souza, is a cofounder of Enhanced Games, and who tweeted his support on Tuesday.

“About 10 years ago, we started to work on … labelling aging a disease – then finding cures for it. At the time, these objectives were seen by many as outlandish and totally ‘crazy’. Today, there is almost no dinner or social gathering where … longevity [isn’t] one of the core topics of discussion. And I am very proud that we are the driving force behind it. Now I hope that one of my other core beliefs – that medicine should not just be developed to treat the sick, but to enhance each and every one of us to unprecedented levels – will become the zeitgeist over the coming years, too.”

Photograph: Tomas Marek/Shutterstock