Dr Michael Sidler discusses the questions raised by longevity investment, why it’s time to frame a positive narrative for the sector and why longevity clinical trials need a new paradigm.
Michael Sidler, PhD, is a passionate investor, coach and supporter of startups and the whole ecosystem that surrounds them. He is co-founder and partner at Redalpine, a seed stage VC that invests in high tech companies in ICT and life sciences.
Longevity.Technology: Michael Sidler is one of the speakers lined up for Berlin’s Rejuvenation Startup Summit (14-15 October 2022), which is hosted by the Forever Healthy Foundation. This vibrant networking event aims to accelerate the development of the rejuvenation biotech industry, and Sidler will be joining an all-star line-up that includes Michael Greve, Eric Verdin, Brian Kennedy, Christian Angermayer and our own Phil Newman.
Ahead of the Summit, we caught up with Michael Sidler for a video interview in which he shares his views on the intersection of tech and life sciences, the Gartner Hype Cycle and why a new paradigm for clinical trials is needed. Check it out below:
Michael Sidler on…
Why longevity – and what is it?
Redalpine has always been interested in the intersection and overlap of the fields of tech and life sciences – we were looking at these sorts of deals even the field was known as ‘longevity’, the definition of which is much debated! As the field grows, so will our activities in the space, but I would define longevity, in the broadest sense, as enabling healthy people to make interventions in their lives to extend lifespan or healthspan. Our portfolio company Aktiia, for example, have a bracelet that continuously monitors blood pressure and allows you to take remedial action.
The power of data
Wherever you have a convergence of data and information with life science, things get interesting, especially if that data is longitudinal. Adding the right computing power and artificial intelligence gives the individual user or consumer the power to take action in their lives. There is a diagnostics component, a computing component, a data component and a a front-end that interacts with the customer. Put that altogether and it’s super-interesting and also something which is – to a large extent – lacking.
The wider investment community – and ethical necessity
Investing in longevity has received a lot of coverage recently, but probably longevity is still waiting for the ‘Netflix Moment’, the gamechanger, but it is becoming more popular and more positively annotated. This brings ethical questions, of course, but the longevity community should take control of the discourse around these ethical questions, understand them seriously and in a meaningful way, hopefully steering the whole field of longevity in a positive direction.
There is a downside – people becoming alienated when they perceive longevity is just for rich people, Silicon Valley people, trying to extend their lives. This narrative, as perceived by the public, is bad for the field, so we need to create a narrative around a positive image.
Longevity questions… and challenges
Taking longevity as I have defined it [enabling healthy people to make interventions in their lives to extend lifespan or healthspan], raises questions of its own. Who pays for it? How much should be paid for it? Who regulates it? These are very important challenges, and there is another challenge inherent in the science itself – it’s a long shot and we are at the very beginning of the whole field and I would expect to see a lot of ups and downs following the Gartner Hype Cycle curve that may have a deep impact on how much money is going to flow into the field. It needs to be clear that there is no miracle cure out there, we have a long journey ahead. Doing things in a scientific way needs clinical trials and a new paradigm which needs to based on making drugs and treatments for healthy people.