The boom of the anti-aging market: How to get people to live to be 120 (and in good health)

Suppose you’re given the option to live for 120 years. Many of us would probably consider accepting the tempting offer. But remember, during the last 40 years of this extended existence — 14,600 days — you could suffer from pain, mobility problems, dementia, macular degeneration, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Upon reflection, most of us would probably reject the proposal. Gaining years of life implies getting old — the toll on the body and the mind isn’t minor. At least, for now.

The world is about to experience a revolution that will change absolutely everything. The emerging anti-aging industry — estimated to be worth around $610 billion by 2025 — is seeking to unravel the changes and processes involved in the development of age-associated diseases, injuries and disabilities. This in order to delay them, reduce the damage they cause, or reverse them.

Old age, a physiological process that occurs in all organisms, leaves its marks. These include genomic instability, telomere shortening, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, stem cell depletion and chronic inflammation. Aging also triggers the risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s — it affects some 50 million people worldwide — and cancer, with the probability of having the disease past the age of 80 being at nearly 50%. Old age also bolsters the risk of developing Parkinson’s, heart disease, muscle fragility, arthritis, tissue fibrosis, type 2 diabetes, obesity and many other conditions. “These diseases can and should be prevented and, of course, delayed,” says José Viña, a professor at the University of Valencia, Spain. He’s also the director of research at INCLIVA — the Biomedical Research Institute — and CIBERFES, the Biomedical Research Center in Frailty and Healthy Aging.

Biotechnology research on aging and longevity is currently experiencing a golden age, supported by billions of dollars in investments from venture capital, the pharmaceutical industry, non-profit organizations and wealthy families. Much of the funds that this sector receives comes from the pockets of the world’s richest men, such as Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Sam Altman (ChatGPT), Larry Page (Google) or Peter Thiel (PayPal). Cloaked with a bit of secrecy, they finance biotech start-ups that go a step further, researching cell reprogramming to restore health, so that people can live longer, healthier lives.

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