While many mega-billionaires are looking to the stars, at least one is looking closer to home, launching a bio-startup that seeks to tap into new advances in genetics to increase the human “healthspan” and perhaps even reverse the aging process.
Newlimit: Lengthening the “Healthspan”
On Sunday, Brian Armstrong, the billionaire CEO of cryptocurrency platform Coinbase, announced his newest endeavor: NewLimit, a company focused on lengthening the human “healthspan”. Their media release explained this unusual term.
“Some people have an aversion to the idea of living longer when they first hear about it,” the statement read. “They are often imagining being frail in old age, and extending this unpleasant experience.”
“Imagine if you could live the same number of years, but be free from pain, and have the same mobility and cognition as someone in their thirties. If we could maintain this state, how many of us would still want to have our lifespan end at the “normal” time? Aging is one of the largest sources of pain and suffering hiding in plain sight all around us, and we believe there is a moral imperative to try and end this suffering that affects every one of us.”
The company envisions its technology to be universally available, comparing it to other technologies that were initially expensive and exclusive but very quickly became inexpensive.
The company will begin by focusing on epigenetics, the study of how cells control gene activity without changing the DNA sequence.
“NewLimit plans to initially focus on this mechanism: epigenetic reprogramming,” the release stated. “Put simply, we want to figure out a way to restore the regenerative potential we all had when we were younger, but somehow lost.”
The company stated that the pandemic was partial proof that this research is essential.
“The last year has emphasized this point on a global scale. We still do not know why the elderly have a weaker immune system and are more susceptible to infection and receive less protection from vaccines. You can go read all the textbooks and you won’t find any satisfying answers.”
The research will utilize artificial intelligence to study material inside chromosomes that change with age, whether these chromatin features cause aging, and develop therapies to counter these changes, thereby slowing or even reversing the aging process.
The company anticipates that this lofty and ambitious goal may take several decades to achieve if it is achievable at all. But they insisted that due to advances in genetic technology, the time to begin is now.
Billionaires divided on the issue of anti-aging
The field of anti-aging is attracting uber-wealthy donors. In September, Altos Labs, a biological reprogramming tech company focused on anti-aging research, received funding from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner.
But not all billionaires agree. During an interview at The Wall Street Journal‘s CEO Council Summit on Monday, Musk warned that letting people live longer or forever may actually be a really bad idea.
“It is important for us to die because most of the time people don’t change their mind, they just die,” Musk said at the event. “If you live forever, we might become a very ossified society where new ideas cannot succeed.”
It is interesting to note that the high-tech vision is to return humanity to pre-flood condition. The fifth chapter of Genesis describes the first generations of Man with remarkably long lives. Adam lived an astonishing 930 years and many of his descendants live over 900 years but the longest-lived was Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather, who died at the age of 969. Noah lived 950 years but after the flood, the lifespans described in the Bible were substantially shorter, with the longest being Terach, Abraham’s father, who died at the age of 205.
High-tech striving to bring about Messianic era
“In the end of days, everyone will live longer,” Rabbi Riess said. “In fact, after the nations stop hating Israel marking the beginning of the Messianic era, God will destroy death entirely.”
The rabbi cited the prophet, Isaiah:
He will destroy death forever. My Hashem will wipe the tears away From all faces And will put an end to the reproach of His people Over all the earth— For it is Hashem who has spoken. Isaiah 25:8
“We are simply waiting for this,” The only reason we don’t live forever is that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge.”
And Hashem said, “Now that the man has become like one of us, knowing good and bad, what if he should stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever!” Genesis 3:22
“The natural condition of man is to live forever and the Messiah will return us to that,” Rabbi Riess said. “And this is precisely the time to be speaking about this.”
The rabbi noted that this week, Jews are reading the portion of the Torah referred to as Vayechi (and he lived).
“The Torah begins by saying that Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years. The Talmud notes that nowhere does it say he died,” Rabbi Riess said, noting that Genesis 49:33 states, “He drew his feet into the bed and, breathing his last, he was gathered to his people.”
“Death is not a given fact of life,” Rabbi Riess said. “The Egyptians knew this and that is why they embalmed their dead. Healing is a belief that death doesn’t necessarily have to happen. Messiah will show that death is able to be conquered and even reversed. The dead will be resurrected and the living will live forever. Messiah comes as a result of tshuva (repentance) which is based on the belief that actions that have already been brought into the world can be fixed.”
“People think that technology is destroying the world but these high-tech efforts are based, albeit subconsciously, in these basic Torah beliefs that are embedded in the souls and minds of Men. The human consciousness is entirely based on the Creator and it is constantly being revealed. The final Tikkun (fixing) will come from God but the souls of men are longing for this.”
Toward this end, the Tzfat Kabbalah center offers “Hidden Light”, an experiential presentation showing the mystic truth hidden within technology.