Life extension breaking new ground

VitaDAO’s Maria Marinova reports from Vitalia, the pop-up city aiming to redefine the longevity biotech landscape.

The VitaDAO Life Extension Conference, held from 23-25 February 2024, in the innovative pop-up city of Vitalia, Honduras, showcased a bold exploration of human longevity. Vitalia, inspired by visionary concepts from Vitalik Buterin and Balaji Srinivasan, hosted this event within the special economic zone of Próspera on Roatán Island, drawing over 200 individuals worldwide. This assembly discussed a significant leap towards extending human healthspan and lifespan, emphasizing a future where both are within our reach.

Vitalia’s two-month existence is not just a temporary gathering but a stepping stone towards establishing permanent longevity districts aimed at revolutionizing the biotech sector. The conference featured discussions on rejuvenation biotechnology, the potential of psychedelics in health, and AI’s role in life extension, underlining Vitalia’s mission to foster innovation and support biotech advancements.

The selection of Roatán for this conference leveraged its legal framework favorable to medical freedom and innovation, providing an inspiring setting for forward-thinking discussions. This year’s event highlighted the interconnection between urban planning and health, novel biological studies, and the future of medical interventions, with speakers and attendees alike envisioning decentralized longevity cities as a new frontier in the quest for longevity.

Day 1 – Shaping civilization: From longevity cities to the science of rejuvenation

Max Unfried inaugurated the conference with a brief introduction, outlining the conference’s ambitious goal: to navigate through the latest advancements in longevity science and to foster a community dedicated to this cause.

The day proceeded with a deep dive into “Longevity Cities and States,” a session that painted a picture of a future where cities are built with healthspan and lifespan extension at their core. Niklas Anzinger shared his vision of decentralized longevity cities, suggesting a future where urban planning and health are intrinsically linked. Sebastian Brunemeier expanded on this by discussing the potential for “Longevity Free Cities,” emphasizing medical freedom as a cornerstone for these urban developments. Adam Gries brought a philosophical angle with his talk on Vitalism, proposing a longevity revolution through network states.

A panel discussion followed, weaving together the insights from the speakers, moderated by Laurence Ion. This conversation not only expanded on the presented ideas but also sparked a lively debate among attendees, setting a collaborative tone for the conference.

Advancing longevity science

The afternoon sessions shifted focus to the biological underpinnings of aging and how to counteract them. Caitlin Lewis from LEVF presented remarkable findings on robust mouse rejuvenation, sparking hope for applying similar principles to human longevity. Professors Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov took the stage next, sharing their ongoing work on SIRT6 and therapies based on long-lived mammals, respectively. Their research pointed towards tangible pathways for lifespan extension and rejuvenation, captivating the audience with the possibility of translating these findings into human applications.

Psychedelics and longevity

Psychedelics, often associated with mental health treatment, were spotlighted for their potential in longevity medicine. Melinda Wang, Max Unfried, and Trishant Sidhwani discussed the combinatorial explosion of psychedelics in therapeutic applications, suggesting a new frontier in health and longevity.

The DeSci frontier

The day concluded on a note of innovation and collaboration, with Todd White representing VitaDAO and James Sinka exploring decentralized science (DeSci) and the role of blockchain in funding longevity research. 

Community time

As the sun set on the first day, the conference underscored its commitment to not just scientific exploration but also community building. A group photo captured of all attendees at sunset on the pier, followed by a bonfire at the Las Verandas Beach with a touch of circus arts and poi spinning. This informal gathering, complete with music and karaoke, allowed for relaxed interactions, further knitting the community together in their shared pursuit of extending human healthspan and lifespan.

Day 2 – Unveiling the future of health and longevity

Day two, themed “Frontiers of Forever,” unveiled the secrets of centenarians and the future of body part replacement and head transplantation. Insights into space health and the quest for optimizing human health for space exploration bridged the gap between terrestrial and extraterrestrial longevity research. The afternoon sessions explored the pathways to longevity through ovarian lifespan and estrogen’s impact, revealing the intricate connections between hormones and aging.

Opening the day: A gateway to discovery

Victoria Massó set the stage with a brief but inspiring opening, reiterating the conference’s commitment to unveiling the future of health and longevity. Her words served as a gateway to a day filled with discussions and insights.

Unlocking the secrets of centenarians

The first session brought the audience face-to-face with the mysteries of extreme longevity. Robert Young delved into biogerontological research on supercentenarians, offering clues to overcoming the maximum human lifespan limit. Professor David G McCarthy followed with insights on mortality compression and postponement, suggesting that the future may hold the key to significantly extended healthy lifespans for older cohorts.

Beyond the known: The future of medical replacement and transplantation

Justin Rebo and Petr Kondaurov ventured into the realms of body part replacement and head transplantation, respectively. Their talks, filled with futuristic visions and ethical considerations, sparked imaginations and debates on the potential for these radical interventions in extending life and health.

Space: The final frontier in health and longevity

The session on space health, featuring Jennifer Fogaty and Scott Ginebaugh, bridged the gap between terrestrial and extraterrestrial longevity research. They explored how optimizing health for space exploration could yield applications beneficial for Earth, touching on space biology and the acceleration of aging in microgravity environments.

The ovarian odyssey and healthy longevity medicine

The afternoon sessions resumed with a deep dive into the role of estrogen and ovarian lifespan in female longevity. Dr Maria Marinova, Professor Miguel Brieno-Enriquez, and Nikolina Lauc presented a compelling case for supporting reproductive aging research, highlighting how lessons from the naked mole-rat ovary and the glycan perspective on estrogen could pave the way for novel interventions.

Subsequently, Dr Luisa Georgiana Baca, Tina Woods, and Dr Nichola Conlon explored the multifaceted approaches to healthy longevity medicine. From the heart and brain’s mutual influence to the quantum view of longevity from cells to cities, and the potential of boosting NAD+ for longevity, their talks underscored the complexity and interconnectivity of aging.

Charting the course: Technical roadmap and prosperity

Mark Hamalainen introduced the Life Extension LBF Technical Roadmap, offering a strategic vision for overcoming aging, while Eric Brimen’s presentation on Próspera highlighted the role of innovative governance in maximizing human prosperity.

Culmination of a day of discovery

The day concluded with a VitaDAO speakers’ dinner, a convivial gathering that provided a perfect setting for reflection, debate, and camaraderie among the pioneers at the forefront of extending human life.

Day 3 – The Longevity Industry’s Evolution

The final day of the conference focused on the ever-growing longevity industry, with AI and biotech taking the spotlight. Discussions ranged from the use of multiomics models and computational tools in drug discovery to the legal and technological challenges facing longevity biotech. The day concluded with a fireside chat on the “Right-to-Try” novel medical interventions, a fitting end to a conference that pushed the boundaries of medical freedom and innovation.

AI for longevity: The dawn of a new era

The morning sessions highlighted the integral role of artificial intelligence (AI) in longevity research. Dmitry Kalupin introduced the audience to foundation multiomics models driven by transcriptomics, emphasizing the power of AI in understanding the complex biological processes underlying aging. Maxim Kholin presented a vision where AI, combined with physics and extensive medical data, could potentially double human lifespan. Michael Antonov’s talk on computational tools for drug discovery underscored the transformative potential of AI in identifying new compounds that could delay aging or reverse its effects.

Bridging biotech and blockchain

Following a brief interlude, discussions shifted towards longevity biotech, addressing both its potential and the hurdles it faces. Kamen Shoylev tackled the legal obstacles hindering the field, suggesting pathways to navigate or dismantle these barriers. Dr Kelsey Moody, humorously referred to as the “Molecular Garbage Man,” shared insights into the cleanup of cellular waste, a crucial aspect of aging intervention. Dr Michael Torres explored the fusion of biotech and cryptocurrency, presenting a model attractive to both venture capitalists and the burgeoning crypto-financial sector.

Clinical frontiers: Moving towards application

Post-lunch sessions delved into the practical applications of longevity research. Dr Oki O’Connor discussed the Cyclarity technology for removing age-accumulated toxic biomolecules, a drug now entering clinical trials. Kia Winslow and Tristan Roberts shared their experiences in building pipelines for clinical-stage therapies targeting aging and running clinical trials in innovative environments like Próspera.

Nonprofits: The unsung heroes of longevity

The conference also shone a light on the role of nonprofits in the longevity field. Arkadi Mazin and Martin O’Dea celebrated these organizations as pivotal in driving forward the research and application of longevity technologies, highlighting their crucial role in a domain often dominated by for-profit ventures.

A fireside chat on medical freedom

One of the day’s highlights was a fireside chat featuring Dr Aubrey de Grey and Senator Ken Bogner, discussing the “Right-to-Try” novel medical interventions. This conversation provided deep insights into the ethical, legal, and social implications of providing patients access to experimental treatments, a topic of increasing relevance in the longevity field.

Exploring new frontiers in biotech

The conference’s final sessions continued to explore the frontiers of longevity biotech. Doug Ethell presented a novel approach to reversing dementia using a tiny implant, while Anna Vakhrusheva discussed repurposing gene therapy for cosmetic rejuvenation in healthy individuals. Ivan Morgunov wrapped up the session with a talk on managing a multi-asset portfolio in longevity biotech, highlighting the diverse investment opportunities within the sector.

As the VitaDAO Life Extension Conference drew to a close, the atmosphere was one of optimistic determination. The final day not only showcased the latest scientific advancements and philosophical discussions surrounding longevity but also emphasized the importance of collaboration across disciplines and sectors. Attendees departed with renewed enthusiasm and a collective resolve to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in extending human health and lifespan.

A community, a common cause

Apart from the intellectual stimulation, the conference was a testament to the power of community. From the group photo capturing the spirit of collaboration to the casual fun at the Las Verandas Beach Bar, every moment was a reminder of the collective journey towards a future where health and longevity are within reach for all. As the attendees dispersed, the conversations and connections forged over these three days promised to catalyze further advancements in the field of life extension, making the dream of a healthier, longer life a tangible reality for generations to come.

Life extension breaking new ground
VitaDAO’s Maria Marinova

About Maria Marinova

Maria is a PhD graduate specializing in the Biology of Aging. With a background in academia, venture capital and venture creation, Maria’s passion extends beyond traditional boundaries of science and commercialization to embrace innovative and transformative approaches to aging and healthcare. Presently, Maria is a Core Team member of VitaDAO and AthenaDAO, championing innovative strides in longevity research.