Investors from around the world gather in Gstaad

Longevity.Technology’s CEO reports from Day 1 of the Longevity Investors Conference in Switzerland.

Set in the exclusive resort of Gstaad in Switzerland, today saw the start of Longevity Investors Conference hosting a raft of Longevity A-listers including David Sinclair, Bryan Johnson, Nir Barzilai, Eric Verdin, Greg Bailey, Aubrey de Grey, Alex Zhavoronkov and Andrew Steele.

Longevity.Technology: And we are there also! Ahead of his keynote on Day 2, our CEO, Phil Newman reports from the longevity frontline with details on the presentations of two key speakers who opened up the conference: Drs Eric Verdin and Aubrey de Grey.

After an effortless plane and two trains journey to the Alpine summit resort of Gstaad (the reputation for reliable trains in Switzerland maintained) I arrived at my hotel an hour or so  before the two-and-a-half days of high-end networking started.

Kicking off the conference, Eric Verdin MD,  President and Chief Executive Officer at the Buck Institute, shared some key learnings from his lofty position within the longevity industry.

As part of his What is Longevity? address, Verdin discussed caloric restriction and its effects on life extension. This is something science has been aware of since the early 1900s, and Verdin referenced this has been calibrated by Black 6 mice that are used in longevity experiments around the world, and that a hundred interventions that extend life in mice are now in the clinic.

Verdin expanded that science has identified the pathways that influence aging, and that we have a molecular understanding of aging which is leading us to an understanding of interventions that can be treated with drugs. He talked about ‘the geroscience hypothesis’, in that we have replaced infectious diseases with the diseases of aging, and that, in fact, we how have an epidemic of [aging] diseases.

Investors from around the world gather in Gstaad

Verdin identified that longevity science is reinventing medicine, and that we are the beginning point of addressing ‘the sickcare paradigm’, but that medicine remains siloed, with very little work happening in prevention; moving toward a ‘healthcare system’ requires a proactive, preventative and personalised approach – aging starts at 30 and interventions need to start as early.

Verdin shared data that average lifespan has decreased in the US from 79 years old to 76 years old – but this downward trend will not be isolated to the US; Covid, the opioid crisis and growing obesity are all going to contribute to the decline in life expectancy around the world. He added that it is the responsibility of all in the longevity field to give politicians the levers they need to effect a positive difference in life expectancy.

Mice colonies are used in longevity research across the globe, and in most cases ‘Black 6 mice’ are the most popular; but Verdin explained that this is effectively an N of 1 in that so many are working on a single animal category [1]. He noted that calorific restriction in experimental mice only resulted in these mice living to the same age as non-treated mice. So the correlation of mouse to human studies is undermined by this study; caloric restriction in humans does lead to a reduction in metabolic age [2].

Investors from around the world gather in Gstaad

Dr Aubrey de Grey, founder of Longevity Escape Velocity Foundation (LEVF), questioned why a non-profit like LEVF was speaking at an investor conference, but assured the audience that it was good to speak as outsiders, and that whether or not you expect to see extreme life extension, it is important to keep all levels of discussions in the field moving forward.

Dr de Grey, a long-standing advocate for the longevity field commented that he sees himself as a spokesperson at ‘Gandhi stage 4’ on the basis of the great pace at which the field is progressing:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win.”

The LEVF’s flagship research programme is Robust Mouse Rejuvenation. RMR is a series of mouse studies, each involving the administration of (various subsets of) at least four interventions that have, individually, shown promise in others’ hands in extending mean and maximum mouse lifespan and healthspan.

The study focuses on interventions that have shown efficacy when begun only after the mice have reached half their typical life expectancy – so late-onset interventions – and investigate those interventions that specifically repair some category of accumulating, eventually pathogenic, molecular or cellular damage.

LEVF’s ultimate goal in this programme is to achieve “Robust Mouse Rejuvenation”, determining not only the ultimate readout of lifespan, but also the interactions between the various interventions.

Next up is to throw everything at the combined study of interventions.

Describing the longevity sector as quantitatively unique, de Grey commented that while world-leading economists are estimating that the space may soon been worth $trillions a year, they are being “astronomically conservative”, adding that what is actually being contemplated is approximately ten times the entire global medical budget.

Dr de Grey commented: “There are 8 billion people on the planet and they’ve all ‘got’ aging.” He added that the size of this market will dwarf any other market and encouraged delegates to be patient – and to write bigger checks!