Methuselah Foundation’s CEO David Gobel on clinging to the longevity biotech mast while waiting for the rising tide.
September is whizzing by, and that means that it’s not long to go until the Longevity Investors Conference takes place in Switzerland. One of the speakers on Day 2 of this must-attend event is the philanthropist, entrepreneur and futurist David Gobel; the Methusaleh Foundation CEO will be presenting on Lifting All Boats… Realizing precision personalized medicine via in vivitro modeling. An in vivitro approach combines traditional in vivo and in vitro methods, creating an ‘in life in glass’ platform.
Longevity.Technology: Co-founded with Dane Gobel and Aubrey de Grey, the Methuselah Foundation is a medical charity based in Springfield, Virginia. The foundation has invested millions of dollars in the research and development of regenerative medicine, and uses its platform to promote public understanding of longevity and ways to extending the healthy human lifespan.
David Gobel on…
The biotech freeze
Frustration is not a particularly useful emotion, so if I thought about the current situation, I might get frustrated, but these things come and go, winter happens, so you have to plan for it, or at least adapt to it. One of the single best times to invest in an emerging marketplace is when everyone else runs for the hills; at the absolute nadir of the global financial collapse, we made our first investment in March 2009, and went on to a 42x gain.
I think we’re going to hit an inflection point, but I’m not yet sure which way things are going to go – rather like saloon doors! I think we will know by the second quarter of 2024 at the latest – it could be that markets will fall off a cliff due to interest rates and quantitative tightening finally taking hold in a serious way, and that will induce governments to pivot and rapidly reduce interest rates. That will mean we’ll hit the bottom and come right back up like a roller coaster – that’s probably the strongest scenario, but who knows? We’re all rather like Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump – clinging to the mast in the storm and yelling at God: “Do your worst!” Other boats are sunk, but our strategy right now is to stay afloat.
Deciding where to deploy capital
We are in the later stages of exploring and exploiting the opportunities space; from 2009 through to today, we’ve been looking at the waterfront how to impact extending healthy human lifespan tactically or strategically. We made our mission of making 90 the new 50 by 2030 falsifiable by adding the deadline – that’s a fabulous mind-focusing device!
Alzheimer’s is an example of a tactical approach – if you don’t take care of Alzheimer’s, it doesn’t matter if you are ninety and have the body of a fifty-year-old if your body has gone out to lunch. We have to fix that, so rather than an investment thesis, we have a series of strategies and we look for technologies and science that addresses those strategies. Like Alzheimer’s – you have to get the crud out of the brain, you’re not going to be healthy and live a long time if your body is a landfill.
If you think about aging as a syndrome, a multi-symptom syndrome, you’re going to need multivector solutions. Most longevity-focused companies get derailed because of an imperative of having to go after a single disease. We go for platforms because we want to have many shots of goal and have the opportunity to syndicate and attract pharma partners who do have single disease goals.
We’re investing in clinical delivery of off-label lifestyle and supplement interventions, and our anecdotal results are that using methylation clocks and classic function biomarkers, we’ve been able to get a 9-12 age reversion. And that’s on shore, using board certified practitioners – it’s just part of medicine! We also continue to prosecute our epigenetic reprogramming axis – renew the code; we are all just dirt and our information is manifested in that dirt, and it’s the programming that makes that work, whether startup programming or age-dependant programming. We want to reduce and remove replicative senescence at the programming level.
Time for a new model
What I’m going to be talking about at LIC is the ‘grand barrier’ to achieving our deadline of 2030. The barrier is animal testing vs testing in human tissues. I’ll be discussing the disastrous economics of continuing to use mouse and animal models to model human life and interventions.