After his four-minute foray into space, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos must know that people who spend time in outer space age more quickly than those of us on Earth. Perhaps that's why Bezos has invested in fresh-faced biotech startup Altos Labs, whose focus rests on an anti-aging technique.
What is Altos Labs, and how will Bezos's investment alter the landscape for the anti-aging industry?
Altos Labs uses an anti-aging technique called "reprogramming."
In 2012, scientist Shinya Yamanaka won a joint Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for a practice called "reprogramming." The technique involves adding proteins to a cell, which guides the cell toward a stem cell (youthful) state.
Founded earlier in 2021, Silicon Valley's Altos Labs is using the technique to deliver an anti-aging mechanism for humans. Yamanaka himself will serve on the startup's board despite the fact he only proved the technique in mice.
Altos Labs is currently on the hunt for scientists and is hiring at a starting salary of $1 million annually.
Jeff Bezos is among those funding Altos Labs
Bezos Expeditions—Jeff Bezos's investment office—has funded Altos Labs alongside Russian-Israeli venture capitalist Yuri Milner's foundation.
It isn't clear how much Bezos invested in the operation, but Altos Labs is still in its early stages. In fact, the company doesn't even have a public website yet.
This isn't the first time Jeff Bezos has funded anti-aging
In 2018, Bezos invested in a clinical-stage biotech company called Unity Biotechnology. Unity researches anti-aging therapies in an effort to "slow, halt, or even reverse diseases of aging." The biotech firm's aim isn't necessarily aesthetic, but rather based on eliminating diseases like age-related macular degeneration. Of course, looks might be a happy bonus.
Is Altos Labs publicly traded?
Alto Labs isn't publicly traded, but it's currently riding on institutional investments from deep pockets. The company came to fruition following a two-day conference about anti-aging biotech at Milner's own Palo Alto mansion, which took place in October 2020.
Milner himself has talked about "rejuvenating" humans and other animals. Given Bezos's investment, he might be of the same dogma.
In 2013, billionaire Google co-founder Larry Page announced a similar company called Calico Labs. To date, any progress that Calico has made is speculative, although the company has admitted it's dabbling in reprogramming as well. That means healthy competition for early-stage Altos Labs, which started with an idea but has quickly turned into a well-funded venture.
According to Forbes on Sept. 7, Bezos is worth $203.5 billion. He's the wealthiest person in the world after stepping down as the Amazon CEO. Bezos's Blue Origin spent $5.5 billion on its four-minute space ride 60 miles above Earth's surface.
Now, he's putting his fortune to work in ways the general public can't yet fully comprehend.