With a fortune worth $68 billion, it’s hard to believe there is anything on earth out of Jeff Bezos’s financial reach.
Amazon founder and CEO Bezos had pipped Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to the post this week, becoming the world’s richest man, if only for a day.
However, sci-fi buff Jeff Bezos now has his sights set on the elixir of life, pouring his billions into buying more time in this earthly realm.
53-year-old Jeff isn’t really known for giving the type of ginormous charitable donations that Bill Gates is famous for. However, he is giving a hell of a lot of dosh to a rather controversial Silicon Valley organisation.
Unity Technology develops drugs to treat specific ageing related diseases, such as osteoarthritis and glaucoma, through selectively clearing away senescent cells (old cells which have a persistent damage response).
The aim of Unity Technology is to extend a person’s ‘health span’. While the individual may age in months and years, their bodies will not deteriorate at the rate which we as a species have come to expect.
Jim Kirkland – many health benefits of eradicating senescent cells in mice. Fingers crossed that human studies show same. #IAGG2017
— Stephen Kritchevsky (@agingup) July 25, 2017
Founder of Unity Technology Nathanial David explained his thinking in the following interview with Quartz:
Rather than dying at age 83, demented and catheterized in your bed, how’d you like to die at 107 on the tennis court while winning or be killed by a jealous lover at 112?
That’s in the realm of the possible with this biology.
Could an injection that clears senescent (old) cells from a damaged joint halt–or even reverse–degeneration? https://t.co/FfiTR073Te
— Arthritis-health (@ArthritisHealth) July 9, 2017
Unity Technology is part of a wider growing interest among certain Silicon Valley companies to make ageing and physical decline an option rather than the inevitable end stage of life.
However, the reality may be less idyllic. Senescent cells are understood to have healing qualities and some scientists worry that clearing these away could have some negative, and even cancerous, effects.
Furthermore, this pursuit raises certain ethical dilemmas. In an overpopulated world where certain resources will eventually run out, is it moral to extend or enhance a person’s life span beyond what nature intends for that person? How much would such a procedure cost and how might this create a greater social divide?
So far, tests have proved positive with mice, but humans are more complicated creatures. However, we will have to wait until next year to see a human test subject. Time will tell if this really a viable answer to the fountain of youth.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.