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GLOBALOUTLOOK


Forever young?


Biotech’s next frontier


INVESTMENTS INTO THE LONGEVITY SECTOR IS STEPPING UP, BOLSTERED BY THE PANDEMIC. SETH O’FARRELL REPORTS


of the Silicon Valley-based SENS Research Foundation, Covid-19 has made the case clear: we must make elderly people in our populations more resilient. “It is completely unarguable that


F


ageing is bad for you,” says Mr de Grey, a self-proclaimed provocateur and committed scientist. Almost mystical in appearance, he stands at the crossroads of the mainstream and peripheral –where the longevity sub-sector itself can also be found. As his academic work and theo-


ries on ageing have increasingly become less fringe over the past dec- ade, longevity has emerged as a potential ‘boom’ business. Starting in 2014, when Jason Hope asked Mr de Grey to take a project SENS was


February/March 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com


or Aubrey de Grey, the best known longevity thought leader and chief science officer


working on private, the non-profit research foundation has spun out longevity start-ups by bringing scien- tists together with angel investors. Vindicated by the newstreams of


capital flooding into this market, Mr de Grey, who has given TED talks on the subject of ageing, purveys over a global industry that is, as he describes it, a “super cluster”.


Living longer Longevity is understood by many as the extension of average healthy lifespan — or healthspan. Short of the camp Hollywood fantasy of “liv- ing forever”, the longevity industry has its sights set on a world without age-related disease, rather than a world without mortality per se. Longevity businesses are therefore biotech companies that target spe- cific age-related processes,


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