Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is taking on a grim scythe after he reportedly invested in a startup trying to figure out how to reverse the aging process, according to a report in the MIT Tech Review**.**
Altos Labs was founded earlier this year and attracts university scientists with a high salary of $1 million (844,000 euros) a year or more and allows them the freedom to explore how cells age and how to reverse this process. Report said.
Bezos, 57, stepped down as Amazon CEO in July and said this year he would be devoting more time to philanthropic and passion projects like his space company Blue Origin. In July, he made a short trip into space on a New Shepard rocket.
But Bezos isn’t the only plutocrat to have invested in the company; Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner has also reportedly invested.
Milner, 59, made his fortune by investing in Facebook, among other technology investments.
What is Altos Labs?
The company’s goal is to develop technology that can biologically reprogram cells so that they rejuvenate and prolong human life.
Little is known about the company.
The report says the startup was created in the US and UK this year following a biotech-focused conference held in Los Altos Hills.
According to the MIT Tech Review, a securities disclosure filed in California in June indicates the company has raised at least $270 million (€227 million).
The company is also reportedly planning to open the network in several locations, including San Diego, Japan, and Cambridge, UK.
Who is working on the project?
Spanish biologist Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte will join the company, according to an MIT report. He is known for his research on mixing human and monkey embryos.
It is reported that Professor Steve Horvath will also join the team. He is the developer of the so-called “biological clock” that can measure human aging.
Shinya Yamanaka, who won the 2012 Nobel Prize for his discovery of reprogramming, will become an unpaid senior fellow and chair the company’s scientific advisory board.
“While there are many hurdles to overcome, the technology has enormous potential,” Yamanaka said in an interview with MIT Technology Review.
Manuel Serrano of the Institute for Biomedical Research in Barcelona, Spain, said the company would pay him 5 to 10 times what he currently earns. He confirmed to MIT Technology Review that he plans to join the Altos facility in Cambridge.
“The philosophy of Altos Labs is to conduct research based on curiosity. This is what I can do and love to do,” said Serrano.
“In this case, through a private company, we have the freedom to be bold and explore. Thus, it will rejuvenate me.”
Will we ever find the elixir of life?
According to Serrano, Altos’ first goal is not to make money. “The goal is to understand rejuvenation,” he told the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“I would say that the idea of generating income in the future is there, but this is not an immediate goal.”
Altos isn’t the only secretive company looking for ways to extend life.
Calico Labs, the longevity company announced in 2013 by Google co-founder Larry Page, is also on the same path.
He also employed elite scientists at generous salaries. But it’s unclear how much progress the company has made to date.