HEALTH 27th June 2018


  • Age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease are the biggest contributors to death rates and healthcare costs globally

  • The emergence of anti-aging science suggests it is possible to eliminate these conditions by slowing down the aging process

  • As biotech firms race to find the elixir of life, venture capitalists are lining up to foot the bill

As we live longer, the need for interventions to postpone age-related diseases has become a focal point for biotech firms. Studies show that delaying the aging process increases life expectancy by an additional 2.2 years and saves up to $7.1 trillion in healthcare costs due to the prevention of illnesses like Alzheimer’s, cancer and diabetes. In other words, solving the aging problem is no longer reserved for the residents of 90210.

Much of the research on anti-aging and disease prevention is based on animal studies, but the potential is enormous. In some cases, a tenfold delay in aging was observed across organisms such as yeast, worms, flies, mice and rats. On the back of this, biotech firms are focusing their R&D efforts on treatments which delay human aging, rather than target individual age-related diseases. All of which has caught the attention of venture capital (VC) firms, who invest in companies deemed to have high growth potential.

Take the first two months of 2018 – biotech startups raised more money from venture capital than in all of 2013. Biotech’s like Viela Bio, a firm pioneering treatments for autoimmune disorders by targeting pathways in the body known to control our rate of aging.

It’s worth pointing out that the science of anti-aging has come a long way in its own right. Conventional wisdom used to be that damage to our cells as we age causes illness. But breakthrough discoveries, such as the miracle drug Rapamycin (see here) have led to a boom in anti-aging research, particularly the inner workings of our cells at the molecular and genetic levels.

What does this mean for you and me?

Backing the next big thing in biotech comes with a significant pay day for venture capitalists. But looking at the bigger picture, it could save lives – and that can only be a good thing for you and me.

As always, pushing for health.


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