Silicon Valley investor Joon Yun is offering a cool million dollars in cash prizes to anyone who can "hack the code of life" in an effort to increase human lifespan. It's the latest in a growing trend of well-funded efforts to cure aging.
It's called the Palo Alto Longevity Prize, and it was launched back in September of last year. Half of the million will be awarded to a team of researchers who can extend lifespan by 50% in an animal model. The other half will go to a team who manage to "demonstrate that it can restore homeostatic capacity (using heart rate variability as the surrogate measure) of an aging reference mammal to that of a young adult."
The Palo Alto Longevity Prize joins other recent efforts designed to combat aging, including Google's Calico and biotechnologist Craig Venter's Human Longevity Inc. It's also very similar to Aubrey de Grey's Mprize. The legitimacy of these endeavors has certainly taken on a new form in the last few years, as witnessed by these well-funded projects.
The Guardian recently put out an excellent article detailing Yun's longevity prize and other related anti-aging initiatives. Here's a quick taste:
In Palo Alto in the heart of Silicon Valley, hedge fund manager Joon Yun is doing a back-of-the-envelope calculation. According to US social security data, he says, the probability of a 25-year-old dying before their 26th birthday is 0.1%. If we could keep that risk constant throughout life instead of it rising due to age-related disease, the average person would – statistically speaking – live 1,000 years. Yun finds the prospect tantalising and even believable. Late last year he launched a $1m prize challenging scientists to "hack the code of life" and push human lifespan past its apparent maximum of about 120 years (the longest known/confirmed lifespan was 122 years).
Yun believes it is possible to "solve ageing" and get people to live, healthily, more or less indefinitely. His Palo Alto Longevity Prize, which 15 scientific teams have so far entered, will be awarded in the first instance for restoring vitality and extending lifespan in mice by 50%. But Yun has deep pockets and expects to put up more money for progressively greater feats. He says this is a moral rather than personal quest. Our lives and society are troubled by growing numbers of loved ones lost to age-related disease and suffering extended periods of decrepitude, which is costing economies. Yun has an impressive list of nearly 50 advisers, including scientists from some of America's top universities.
There's ton's more at The Guardian, so be sure to check it all out.
Image: Rinat Zevriyev/Shutterstock.