and seasonal allergies, into anti- ageing ones. Chief executive and co-founder

Kristen Fortney notes thatwhat dis- tinguishes ageing science fromdis- ease-related science is that the for- mer is defined by its relevance to many different diseases. Statins might provide a prece-

dent for the kind of trajectory anti- ageing drugs might take, she says. First approved for an orphan disease, hypercholesterolemia (abnormally high levels of cholesterol), it has since been expanded into a drug that is prescribed once you have passed a certain age. This is the pathway we can expect for ageing therapy drugs, she says.

Socialandeconomicimpact Ever-increasing ageing populations have already ushered in a demo- graphic shift, altering the dynamics of the global economy. Baby boom- ers, who were front and centre of the post-war rise in productivity, will nowpreside over an era where wealth is increasingly held by older segments of society. Those with time to kill and money to burn will soon make up the so-called “seventh continent” — the one billion people in retirement. Jaana Remes, partner at

McKinsey,whose work does not bear upon the longevity industry but rather the economic benefits of more robust health systems, says the over-60s are the new consumers.We therefore need a “more constructive way to think about ageing and lon- gevity”, she proposes, adding that it may not necessarily all be character- ised by slowgrowth, but rather “an opportunity for economic prosperity for everyone”. Richard Siow, director of ageing

research at King’s College London’s Ark, a cross-faculty consortiumof researchers taking a multidiscipli- nary approach to better understand themechanisms of ageing and lon- gevity and its social impact, suggests that the investment and policy focus should be on extending healthspan through engaging in the societal effects on longevity as they are being experienced now. There needs to bemore invest-

ment from the “supermarket” health perspective, he says, rather than just the clinical disease per- spective, bywhich he means that “venture capitalists should invest not only in clinical research but also


in community research to see how we canmake a difference at the con- sumer level”.

Financialisation of longevity The interplay between living longer and healthier lives and the labour market has prompted other inves- tors and entrepreneurs to think aboutwhat insurance policies and pension funds might look like in this brave new world. Since 2010, longevity swaps have

been a way for pension funds in the UK to hedge against their liabilities, essentially betting that their mem- bers will live longer. According to a recent estimate, the longevity swap market is worth roughly £90bn ($122bn). As Mr Mellon points out, if a sig-

nificant extension of lifespan is widely accessible to human beings, someof our social contracts will have to change. “Your whole life tra- jectory can change so you’re not just going to learn, earn, retire, expire. You’ll have to think of a very differ- ent way to live your life. Who’s going to pay for that?” Dmitri Kaminskiy, general part-

ner at Deep Knowledge Group, a consortium of commercial and non-profit organisations looking into frontier technologies, aims to create longevity exchange-traded funds, and issue longevity deriva- tive products in a bid to provide institutional investors with expo- sure to this growing part of the financial market. “This can then be redeployed into additional research, creating a self-inducing cycle,” he hopes. Mr Kaminskiy’s ultimate goal is

to apply for a banking license for a longevity bank, followed by the establishment of a longevity invest- ment bank in the UK—and further downthe line, a longevity stock exchange. An investment bank and a full-

blown capital market are a world away fromwhat Aubrey de Grey thought possiblewhen he started campaigning for a “post-ageing world”. Encouraged bywhat he describes

as “all the bricks in the wall”, from regulatory advances to capital invest- ments, Mr de Grey is determined not to rest on his laurels: “I’m not done. I’ma busy guy right now,” he says. Longevity, it seems, will remain his hill to die on—or not, as the case may be.■ February/March 2021

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