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Man has invested $180 million to make humans live for longer

Man has invested $180 million to make humans live for longer

Sam Altman is no stranger to investments

Some rich people buy cars, some buy mansions, but one man has chosen to spend his money on trying to extend the human lifespan.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Sam Altman also has a pretty nice house and car, but the 37-year-old has largely focused on bigger ideas.

Altman is the CEO of OpenAI; the artificial intelligence research laboratory behind ChatGPT, which was founded in 2015 by a number of investors including Altman and Elon Musk.

Altman is currently the CEO of OpenAI.
REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Though the AI company takes up much of his time, Altman has described emptying his bank account to fund two particular goals: limitless energy, through an investment the fusion power startup Helion Energy, and extended life span.

Altman is hoping to achieve the latter goal with the help of the company Retro Biosciences, which announced last year that it had secured $180 million (£152m) to fund its goal of adding 10 years to the average human life span.

MIT Technology Review has since shared that the entire $180 million was invested by Altman, marking one of the largest investments by an individual into a startup pursuing human longevity.

The CEO is no stranger to investments, having previously got early stakes in companies like Stripe and Airbnb, but more recently he's shifted from backing apps and their founders to backing scientists and their research.

Altman was initially a secret investor in Retro.
REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Altman's interest in an extended lifespan came following his discovery of 'young blood' research, which saw old and young mice being sewn together so they shared a blood system.

The old mice seemed to be partly rejuvenated as a result of the experiment, and after hearing of the apparent success Altman tasked his staff at the time with looking into the progress being made by anti-aging scientists.

“It felt like, all right, this was a result I didn’t expect and another one I didn’t expect,” he said, per MIT Technology Review. “So there’s something going on where … maybe there is a secret here that is going to be easier to find than we think.”

In 2020, researchers in California showed they could achieve similar results to 'young blood' by replacing the plasma of old mice with salt water and albumin.

Altman encouraged his former colleague, Joe Betts-LaCroix, who had previously worked as a part-time biotech partner, to pursue the idea, but Betts-LaCroix was already planning to start a company which looked into cellular reprogramming, aiming to make cells younger through genetic engineering.

Retro aims to extend the average lifespan by 10 years.

For Altman, the solution was simple: “Why don’t you do all those things?”

Betts-LaCroix agreed to 'build a multi-program company around aging biology'; one that looks for therapies that aren't 'super expensive and awkward and difficult to implement'.

Sharing his thoughts on the company, Altman said: "The main thing for Retro is to be a really good bio startup, because that is a rare thing. It’s combining great science and the resources of a big company with the spirit of a startup that gets things done. And that is the project for now."

But before Retro comes up with a solution, Altman tries to extend his life by eating healthily, exercising and trying to sleep enough, though he's also taking metformin, a diabetes drug which theories suggest may be able to keep people healthier for longer.

Featured Image Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo / Greylock / YouTube

Topics: Technology, Health, Money