A new U.S company, with an initial budget of €2.7 million ($2.94 million), has been secretly signing up some of the best scientists in the world, including four Nobel laureates. Altos Labs declared its goal was to enable humans to live longer, healthier lives.
Spanish scientist Juan Carlos Izpisua states that this is not just a billionaire project of being immortal. “That is simply not true. Our interest is in advancing in this area of knowledge and opening the field as wide as possible, so that, over time, everyone can benefit,” he told EL PAÍS. The company will establish three institutes: one in the US city of San Diego, which will be led by Izpisua, one in Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and another in San Francisco.
“The idea behind our investigations is not so that human beings live 100 or 1,000 years more. If we are able to prolong life without improving the quality of these years, not only would it be morally questionable, but also, I would question what purpose it would serve,” says Izpisua. “Our main goal is to enable people to have a healthier life for a longer period of time and to reverse illness in patients of all ages.”
The team also has four Nobel laureates: chemist Jennifer Doudna, (2020 Nobel Prize for chemistry), engineer Frances Arnold (2018 Nobel Prize for chemistry), virologist David Baltimore (1975 Nobel Prize for medicine), and Shinya Yamanaka (2012 Nobel Prize for medicine).
For the first few days, the young cells of a tiny human embryo can turn into any kind of tissue, but they quickly start to specialize to create the different organs of the body. Japanese scientist Yamanaka discovered that this process could be reversed.
This cellular reprogramming will be one of the main focuses of investigation at Altos. The company has also hired Spanish scientists Manuel Serrano and María Abad, who in 2013 applied Yamanaka’s technique in animals for the first time