Science: Reversing age, defeating death

The Story:

Jeff Bezos, the man who famously founded Amazon in his garage in 1994, is one of the principal investors behind an ambitious new project to cheat death, created earlier this year and known as Altos Labs.


According to reports, Altos Labs has been poaching biochemists from prestigious (but less well paying) universities. It wants these scientists to focus on how humans age, and on how that process can be reversed.

It is not clear whether they have any good chance of succeeding in this. Others have failed in the same space.

But the scientists recruited include Shinya Yamanaka, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in October 2012. Yamanaka’s Nobel winning work shows that specialized cells can be “reprogrammed” to return to their pre-specialized state, so that for example a skin cell can return to being a stem cell.

Strange New Worlds:

The premise of the Altos Labs project seems to be that cell specialization is at the heart of aging, and so of increasing vulnerability. Since specialization can be reversed it follows (on this view) that aging can also be reversed and death can be defeated.

Nobody involved mentions the likelihood that success for Altos could become a disastrous event, for Malthusian reasons.

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