Leaders in the Longevity sector gather for annual Forum, with the message that people could soon be living up to 150 years.
It’s the third day of The Longevity Week and we were lucky enough to join a group of influential attendees at the Royal Institute for the annual Longevity Forum. The invitation-only event included leading figures from government and big pharma, as well as top scientists and influencers.
Now into its second year, the Forum promotes dialogue and tests ideas on the future of Longevity. Its mission is to achieve longer, healthier and more fulfilled lives for as many people as possible.
The forum was set up by Professor Andrew Scott, Dafina Grapci-Penney and Jim Mellon, Chairman of Juvenescence, which recently released a report on promising progress in hypoimmunogenic. As a key contributor to the Longevity field, Mellon’s thoughts on the Longevity economy and the progression of Longevity science are key:
What is the mission of the Longevity Forum?
Jim Mellon: The Longevity Forum’s mission is to educate and inform people about the fact that people are going to be living much longer lives. We believe life expectancy on the planet will rise to 110 to 120 within the next 20 or 30 years and, as a result, everything will change for all of us. It’s the Longevity Forum’s mission to get that message across to influencers politicians and people of import who must recognise that society has to make some fundamental changes.
What makes the forum unique?
Jim Mellon: It’s the first event of its type in the world. It’s the focal point of London Longevity Week, which we hope will become established [as one of the world’s leading Longevity events]. There are a number of other events taking place around the forum and there are chapters around the world, including Oman in February and one in Australia.
The Forum brings together key scientists, social influencers and politicians into one space from around the world, and it is a key point of influencing governments to take action on the Longevity we’re going to experience over the next 20 years. So much so that 10 Downing Street recently held a seminar on this very subject, so we think the Government is taking it very seriously.
Where do you see the opportunities for scientific progress?
Jim Mellon: We think small molecules, which are drugs you’d be familiar with such as penicillin anti-ulcer drugs, and their equivalent in Longevity, will be the first line of attack in keeping us alive longer than we otherwise would live.
Because we’re the first generation on the planet for whom bioengineering is possible but subsequently stem cells, organ and tissue regeneration and then ultimately gene editing are the things which will keep people alive to 110 or 120. We think those technologies are here today but gene editing will be the reason why the first person to be alive to 150 is living amongst us today.
How can economies capitalise on these opportunities?
Jim Mellon: If we look at the UK economy, there are enormous opportunities. We are the second most prominent centre for Longevity therapies in the world behind the US. We’re still quite a long way behind the US but we’re catching up. The UK Government has taken a proactive approach. Sir John Bell, professor of medicine at Oxford, has a £300 million war chest to devote to this area.
There will be a longevity forum in Oman next year, so countries are getting the message that this stuff is not science fiction and there are enormous economic opportunities for scientific advances to be translated into commercial success. I am very happy that the UK is one of the leaders in this respect.
The Longevity Forum was packed with stimulating content from multiple contributors – we’ll be sharing more content over the coming days.
Longevity.Technology: The idea that we could soon be living to 120 years old sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but the technology is here now and could soon be available. Society will have to make major changes to adjust.