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12 New Players in the Science of Life

Feb 7, 2024 | Anti-Aging

The life science field has gained much attention lately. In September 2023, age1, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, announced the closing of a $35 million fund aimed at the burgeoning field of longevity biotech. The firm was co-founded by Laura Deming, founder of The Longevity Fund, and Dr. Alex Colville, a Ph.D. in the biology of aging from Stanford University. However, age1 is not the only player.

Malcolm Forbes coined the phrase, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But as one funeral director joked, he is still dead. That message is dawning on a host of billionaires living in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. They may have the spoils of success, but nothing is sureer than death and taxes.

Peter Thiel, Larry Ellison, and Jeff Bezos are using their vast resources to fund startups and initiatives to reverse aging and extend human life. Key research areas include genetics, stem cell science, and calorie restriction. It’s not a surprise that these billionaires are attracted to longevity research due to their urgent desire to live longer.

And they’re not alone. Every day, some 11,000 Americans turn 65, or 4.1 million in 2024 alone, a trend called “peak 65.” They will join the 44% of Boomers already at retirement age.” Today, roughly one in six Americans is 65 or older, and their number will double over the next 40 years. That vast market is ripe for reinvention.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison contributed $430 million to his anti-aging research foundation, the Lawrence Ellison Foundation. Thiel has made a $3.5 million investment in Unity Biotechnology, which aims to develop drugs to eliminate senescent cells in order to prevent age-related diseases. Bezos has also invested in Unity Biotechnology as well as other startups like Altos Labs and Turn Biotechnologies.

OpenAI’s co-founder and wunderkind, Sam Altman, has single-handedly invested $180 million in Retro Biosciences. Co-founded by Joe Betts-LaCroix, alongside scientists Mat Buckley and Sheng Ding, it has a pitch as ambitious as Silicon Valley: Give every human 10 additional years of healthy, vigorous life.

These investments raise ethical concerns around life extension research, including unequal access for lower-income people. The Billionaire Boys Club argues that society benefits from their spending on basic research that could one day combat diseases or treat medical conditions.

Longevity research is focused on three areas, autophagy, rejuvenation of blood plasma and partial cell reprogramming:

  • Autophagy – The prefix “auto” means self, and “phagy” means eat, translating to “self-eating” — a process that refers to a natural self-preservation mechanism in the body. Autophagy involves the removal of damaged or dysfunctional parts of a cell, allowing the body to clean out damaged cells and regenerate newer, healthier ones. This process is important for balancing energy sources at critical times in response to nutrient deprivation. Research has shown that autophagy is associated with various health benefits, including anti-aging effects and cell efficiency. It can be induced by fasting, exercise, and certain medications.
  • Blood plasma – Several studies have shown that injecting young plasma into old mice improves various age-related outcomes, including cognitive function, muscle strength, and lifespan. However, the effects are not always consistent.
  • Cell reprogramming – Cell reprogramming is a revolutionary technique offering immense anti-aging research potential. The technique involves Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs), the Nobel Prize-winning discovery we reported on in Stem Cell Therapy. Reprogramming adult cells into a “pluripotent” state can turn them into any cell type in the body.

Below is a list of companies involved in longevity research:


Launched in September 2023, age1 is a San Francisco-based venture capital firm with an initial fund of $35 million. The firm was co-founded by Laura Deming and Dr. Alex Colville. Deming established The Longevity Fund in 2011, the first fund specializing in longevity biotech. The firm aims to shift the paradigm from sick care to health preservation and lifespan extension.

Altos Labs

Altos Labs seeks to restore cell health and resilience through cellular rejuvenation programming.

Calico Life Sciences

South San Francisco-based Calico Labs, an abbreviation of the California Life Company, has a $1.5 billion budget to help decode the secret of aging. That infusion was supplied by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and drug company AbbVie.

Cambrian BioPharma

Cambrian Bio is developing therapeutics to lengthen healthspan, the period of life spent in good health.

Gordian Biotechnology

According to Gordian Biotechnology CEO Francisco LePort, the company’s mission is to cure age-related diseases, allowing people to lead longer, healthier lives and wake up every morning more capable than the day before. The company uses an in-vivo (inside the animal) drug discovery platform to discover new gene therapies for complex age-related diseases.


NewLimit is focused on restoring youthful function in old cells by reprogramming the epigenome. The company says it leverages single-cell genomics, machine learning, and high-throughput functional assays to reveal the epigenetic features of aging and discover rejuvenating interventions.


Rejuveron develops and invests in therapies that target geriatric diseases. The company’s goal is to promote overall health, well-being and longevity as the population ages.

Retro Biosciences

With a $180 million investment from OpenAI’s Sam Altman, Retro Biosciences employs 50 people to develop an injection or pill that could mimic the benefits of caloric restriction, among other pursuits. The company was founded by Joe Betts-LaCroix and scientists Mat Buckley and Sheng Ding.
Retro Biosciences

Rubedo Life Sciences

Rubedo develops medicines to keep the body biologically young by targeting the pathologic cells that drive aging.
Rubedo Life Sciences

Thymmune Therapeutics

Thymmune Therapeutics is a biotechnology company developing a machine learning-driven thymic cell engineering platform to restore normal immune function in aging and disease.

Turn Biotechnologies

Turn Biotechnologies develops mRNA medicines that induce the body to heal itself by instructing specific cells to fight disease or repair damaged tissue.

Unity Biotechnology

UNITY develops therapeutics to slow, halt, or reverse diseases of aging.
Unity Biotechnology

Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong

Founder, Author, Adjunct Professor, Futurist

Michael is the founder of Toolhacker LLC, an innovation speaker and adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, futurist, and author of “Ubertrends — How Trends And Innovation Are Transforming Our Future.” He is also the founder of four ahead-of-the-wave startups, including MacWEEK, Atelier Systems, CyberAtlas, and ICONOCAST.