Buckle up everybody, because this conversation is a big tour de force of where we are headed in regards to longevity and innovative technology within healthcare. I am joined by my friend, longevity investor and visionary, Sergey Young, to discuss his incredibly important mission of extending healthy lifespans of at least one billion people using technological breakthroughs AND by making longevity affordable and accessible. Sergey is a top 100 longevity leader and one of the co-creators of AGE REVERSAL XPRIZE, a global competition designed to cure aging. Today’s conversation looks at the fundamental issue of healthcare inequality, the democratization of access to healthcare, and dives into the current paradigm shift of using technology for disease prevention and reversal of biological aging. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this conversation as much as I did, and be wowed by the work of Sergey Young. ~DrKF
Sergey Young’s Technological Innovations for Longevity and Biological Age Reversal
How do you address the challenge of making longevity accessible and affordable? This is a topic my guest today, Sergey Young, has a passion and vision for. He is a top 100 longevity leader who is transforming the world one workplace at a time with Longevity@Work, the first nonprofit corporate longevity program of its kind. Sergey has a mission to extend healthy lifespans of at least one billion people and his enthusiasm and vision are quite exciting! We discuss innovative solutions to address healthcare inequality and how technology is paving the way for the future by disrupting the current paradigm.
In this episode of New Frontiers, learn about:
- Addressing healthcare inequality through technology innovations
- Aging as a programmed phenomenon
- AGE REVERSAL XPRIZE global competition designed to cure aging
- Democratization of access to healthcare using technology
- Current and future state of longevity drugs
- Development of technology to support disease prevention
- Organ regeneration, gene editing, and gene therapy in healthcare
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Hi, everybody. Welcome to New Frontiers in Functional Medicine where we are interviewing the best minds in functional medicine, and of course, today is no exception. I’m really, really, really excited to be here with my colleague and my friend, Sergey Young. Let me tell you a little bit about this amazing human, and you’ll be as excited as I am, quite frankly. He is a longevity investor and visionary with a mission to extend healthy lifespans of at least one billion people. That’s awesome. To do that, Sergey founded the Longevity Vision Fund to accelerate life extension, technological breakthroughs and to make longevity affordable and accessible to all.
Sergey is on the Board of Directors of the American Federation of Aging Research, Innovation Board member at XPRIZE, and one of the co-creators of AGE REVERSAL XPRIZE, a global competition designed to cure aging. He’s also a top 100 longevity leader who is transforming the world one workplace at a time with Longevity@Work, the first nonprofit corporate longevity program of its kind. As the author of the actually triple bestselling book, you have double in your bio, you’ll have to update that…
Dr. Sergey Young: Thank you.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: … The Longevity, Science and Technology of Growing Young, Sergey has been featured as a top longevity expert all over the news media and just really in the world of longevity, you’re everywhere. Welcome to New Frontiers. I’m so excited to bring you into the functional medicine world.
Dr. Sergey Young: Hi, Kara. Hi, everyone. I’m so excited to be here with you today.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Well, let’s dive right in and tell me why longevity science is so exciting and important.
Dr. Sergey Young: Look, I think what we’ve done so far… I mean, if you look at the evolution of medicine, healthcare and human beings, everything we’ve been working with was just life extension. We were just moving the average lifespan by avoiding or fighting early death.
So that’s why if you look for the last 100 years, obviously the average lifespan increased twofold, from 35-40 to 75-80 years. What has happened, the maximum lifespan, which is, as far as I know, 122 years, thanks to this beautiful French woman, is still the same. I think this is the first time in the history of humanity when we have scientific breakthroughs and technological discoveries which can help us actually to reverse aging. Moreover, actually, Mother Nature already provides for that. And then that’s why I’m always using your book and your study as an example how in eight weeks, you can turn the biological clocks by 3.2 years, as far as I recall.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Sergey Young: If this is what you can do with diet, sleep, and exercise, think about what we can do in terms of the age reversal, actual age reversal, when we take more science and more technology there. So I’m super excited. I think it’s amazing. And think about this, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a biotech scientist. I’m an investor. So it’s such a rare opportunity for me, as a human being, to touch so many other lives.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Dr. Sergey Young: You already mentioned that my mission is to change one billion lives. Actually, my resolution for this year, I need to redefine my mission. Because very quickly, we invest in early cancer diagnostic, gene editing, gene therapy, organ regeneration, use of AI for drug discovery, where it’s such a huge number of people which going to be influenced by all these technologies. So I actually need to redefine my mission.
While if 10, 20 years ago, when you think about gene therapy and gene editing, it was in the field literally for a group of handful, like five or 10 people that you can test it and then you can use it with certain approvals from regulators. Right now, whatever field you take, whether it’s early diagnostic or organ regeneration or regenerative medicine or gene editing and gene therapy, these are billions of people that we can influence in a positive way. So I’m super excited. This is my personal goal. This is a passion of mine, and that’s why I’m here.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yay, I love it. I just love your infectious energy. Folks, we did an Instagram together a while ago. I’ve been following you on social, and actually, we’ve been talking for quite a while, and I just love it. I love your infectious energy and your positivity. Your cup is always overflowing. It’s not just full, it’s just overflowing, and I just love it.
Dr. Sergey Young: Thank you.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: I mean, that energy is essential, I think, to bringing your mission forward. And a lot of people look at the sort of biohacking, anti-aging community as kind of elite and sort of Silicon Valley biohackers. And it is, and that is a piece of it. But there’s an incredibly important undercurrent that you’re capturing in your mission, and that is that, yeah, these technologies right now are expensive, and it is a remarkably expensive journey to actually get these ready for everybody else, but that is your end game and that’s where you’re going with your mission. And I think a lot of people have that as an end game as well.
Dr. Sergey Young: I agree.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: I want to underline that for people to hear that.
Dr. Sergey Young: Actually, we don’t invest in technologies. We don’t see the affordability and accessibility aspect of it. Let’s be clear, sometimes some of the things are going to be super expensive. I’m always using the example of cell phones. 25 years ago, it was a huge piece of luggage cost $10,000 plus. Right now, you just take 14 minutes train from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, and you can buy a new smartphone for $9 on the electronic market in China, right?
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Dr. Sergey Young: So this is the democratization path that we’ve seen in so many different industries as well. And we’ve seen it in healthcare. And I’m so happy to report, like almost every company that we invest in, and we invested in 18 companies already in the fields that I mentioned, brings 10, 20, 50, not percent, times improvement against the cost of current practice. Obviously…
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Wow.
Dr. Sergey Young: … people criticize me for being idealistic and optimistic. So you always need to have a balancing view. So I’m worrying about that. But early cancer diagnostic, the company called Freenome. It’s very similar to the brain in certain kind of patient-facing aspect. You’re going to pay just few hundred dollars for testing, well, first few types of cancer and then in the end, up to 50 types of cancer using liquid biopsy, your blood test.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Dr. Sergey Young: It’s amazing. Think about any other procedures that you need to undertake and undergo when you try to catch cancer at early stage when your recovery rates in many cases is up to 90 to 100%. I mean, that’s amazing.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Incredible.
Dr. Sergey Young: Or affordable ultrasound devices. There’s a company called ECO Imaging, probably somewhere around $2,000 a piece. Compare it with 100 or $200,000 for ultrasound machine in the hospital next door. I understand, they are different. It’s okay. You can even do the scan yourself. Everything goes to cloud. And then it’s AI which analyzes this whole…
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Cool.
Dr. Sergey Young: … scan. 50 times cheaper than this bulky thing that you still need in a hospital settings. But still, you think about how many people we can help on a remote location or thinking about the affordability aspect. And I can go on and on, like organ regeneration technology. We can cover this today. But I’m so excited that the democratization of access to healthcare is not words, but we really mean it. And all of these companies, they are just one, or three, or five years from being available to the public. So I’m very excited about this whole thing as well.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: I’d like to follow the company that’s doing the liquid biopsy because I know they’re looking at probably DNA methylation patterns, which obviously I’m really interested in from my own work. But, yeah, that’s great and that’s an essential point. So you opened up our conversation talking about addressing diseases with drug intervention. So we’ve extended longevity because we’ve got some antibiotics, and we can do stent procedures and so forth. So we’ve extended longevity as compared to the 19th century when people were dying from infectious disease. We are actually, as you know, losing longevity post-COVID, and we’re losing some years, especially in the United States. I think, actually, we’re ahead of the pack as usual in that arena. But we did bring it forward up to… I think we’re at 76 now, maybe 75 by doing some sort of heroic interventions and having antibiotics.
But you talked about life extension in humans being 120, and I know perhaps beyond. I know people are talking about escape velocity or immortality, not that we need to necessarily go there.
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: So there is something about disease prevention and then there’s actually life extension, and those things are different. I’m going to throw a few questions out at you, starting with that. Is aging a disease? I’m curious about your thoughts there. Extending life to 120 versus just disease prevention. And then is aging… Do you consider it that my wild card also programmed? I mean, is this something that’s baked in? Are we baked in to go to 120 and stop? With all these questions I’ve thrown at you, again, articulate your approach and what we need to be doing.
Dr. Sergey Young: Okay. Great. All of these great questions. Well, let’s start with aging as a disease, right? We all know that when we turn 40, 45, 50, when the aging processes start in our body, with every year, your chances to die from four main diseases, which is cancer, heart disease, diabetes or metabolic diseases and neurodegenerative diseases are increasing exponentially. In the end, it’s like 90% of all deaths after age of 50. So there is something going on. Obviously, aging and age is a huge risk factor for all of these diseases. This gives us an understanding. This is much more systematic than just some sporadic occurrence of all of this. And just a lot of suffering that is brought to our life when aging starts in our body and in our mind. So, that’s one.
Second, we humans, we always tend to think where we are today is the essence, is the top of the mountain of our development. But in the end of the day, if you think about our life cycle, the science and technology going to progress, and progress, and progress. So while we think it’s really unusual and it’s crazy idea to reverse aging by lifestyle intervention or combination of lifestyle intervention and science and technology, it’s crazy but it is feasible. So it’s going to be a norm in the next 10, 20, 30 years while we can fundamentally change your risk profile in terms of dying from all these diseases by influencing aging process or slowing down or even reversing aging processes inside your body. So that’s why I do think aging is a disease. And I think the fact that FDA and a lot of regulators all around the world are not recognizing this as a disease prevents us from making breakthroughs in this field. Because think about cancer, cancer is… It’s 80 to $100 billion R&D investment every year. Aging and aging research is $2 to $4 billion every year. So it’s like 2%.
While we all know if you influence that, your risk profile in terms of cancer and many other disease is going to be much, much lower. I don’t think it’s fair. And the problem is that we don’t have a viable regulatory and an economic model to support investment in aging research. I know what I’m talking about because I’m on the board of American Federation of Aging Research, and we’re always thinking how we can stimulate, by different changes in regulation and scientific work, this interest to them. But let me tell you. And I’m going to be intentionally provocative here because this is my job. My job is to expand the horizons of thinking, specifically with all these beautiful men and women you working with, which is part of our audience today. Because they know better that something needs to change in the definition of healthcare, which is some people call sick care, and I say it with a lot of love, right, that we have today.
So what’s going to happen in 20 years is, obviously, we will be able to select our target age. I don’t think it’s going to be possible if you are 60 to pick up… I want to be three years old thoughts at a moment in my life where I want to make this choice. Joke. But in the end of the day, if you think about target age that majority of us would love to use, it’s anywhere between 25 and 45 years. Okay. And I’m also on the board of XPRIZE Foundation. We’ve done a lot of pro bono and technological competition all around the world. We actually know the first XPRIZE is Virgin Galactic. The first competition was to create the first private spaceship and then Richard Branson bought the rights for this spaceship. We’ve done two XPRIZEs with Elon Musk already. The last one was carbon removal to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
So I’m a big fan and supporter and sponsor of the design, the healthspan XPRIZE. And I can tell you what we thinking about put in there as a conditions in terms for the winning team is to reverse aging by 20 years in the course of 12 month, reversing biological clocks by 20 years for someone who is 65 years old and older. Well, let’s see how it goes. In few decades from now, we’re going to have a choice which particular target age we would like to have while we are about to make this age reversal intervention. And again, I’m always using your work and your book, Kara…
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Thank you.
Dr. Sergey Young: … as an example. People think it’s impossible, and you need to wait for some big technology to arrive. But again, I mean, it’s fascinating. Eight weeks, sleep, diet exercise, probably with a little bit of supplementation, which is part of nutrition, minus three years. I mean, it’s amazing. This mechanism exists. It’s not like it’s just crazy people from Silicon Valley or from Boston would like to invent it. So this is amazing. And then finally, why do we age? Obviously, we have Guido Kroemer, the creator of Hallmarks of Aging framework on our scientific advisory board and a lot of great names.
We don’t know what we don’t know. So I have three degrees, and the first degree is chemical engineering. I can tell you that if aging and human health would have one silver bullet, then it’s either Mother Nature or human mind would find the solution already. So this is not the case. Human biology is one of the most complex thing in this light. So that’s why I’m pretty sure it’s combination of factors, combination of hallmarks from genetic and then epigenetic and then metabolic exchange and senescence cells, how our immune system work, which actually combines in a complex of problems which results in aging.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: I just want to say for our listeners that we’ll grab that Hallmarks of Aging, the newest paper from the team. We have a plain language blog where we walked through all of those hallmarks. So we’ll pop that on the show notes so that you can access those. All right. So let me ask you this. You said so much. You said a lot. But I first want to say though, so the hallmarks of aging, when I look at… Well, our study is an example in that we really targeted changing epigenetic expression, like the whole brick by brick. It’s diet and lifestyle. It’s not going to take a 60-year-old back to being 20. It’s diet and lifestyle.
Dr. Sergey Young: Yup.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And that’s 100% fine. It’s diet and lifestyle. But building it brick by brick to direct epigenetic traffic, I think, was kind of our stroke of brilliance, if you will.
Now, let’s leap to what Sinclair is doing, what they’re doing, I think, over at Altos, which I want to hear your comments on what’s happening over at Altos Lab. This is the Bezos lab with… Horvath is there now, Yamanaka is there, Morgan Levine, et cetera, et cetera. And we know elsewhere, I think it was University of Cambridge where they took 53-year-old skin cells and reversed them in vitro to 20-year-olds. This is happening. They’re all directing traffic at… They’re all changing gene expression using Yamanaka factors, which suggests that root cause aging may be epigenetic.
There are other scientists who think root cause aging could be epigenetic, but then The Hallmarks of Aging are clearly either directly influenced after gene expression or maybe they’re influencing gene expression. Maybe that answer isn’t known. But I’m curious your thoughts on epigenetics as root cause. And we’re clearly turning back the hands of time pretty aggressively. So that’s one. So give me your thoughts there. And then I’m curious if you’re able to share about the XPRIZE that you’re giving this year and if you have any… Who the contestants are, like who you think might actually be doing this and how they’re measuring bio age. Go ahead.
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah. Well, I actually think epigenetic reprogramming is one of the most promising avenues, and that’s just reconfirm what you mentioned, covering the work of so many great men and women all around the world and in the US as well. So I’m very optimistic about this whole thing. I also think that I would like to have more hypothesis and more work in the theories of aging as well. So think about biological clocks, right? We have plenty of development in this field, right? Every time we talk about biological clocks, we have a choice or we can always build a portfolio of different dimensions, right, to define biological age and this is what we need.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: That’s right.
Dr. Sergey Young: This is what we need in the science of aging as well. Obviously, it’s a great framework to organize our thinking, which is Hallmark of Aging, which we’ve been discussing recently. But in the end of the day, I wouldn’t mind more thoughts in this field as well, which bring us to the other topic. And I also mentioned that I think the science of aging, this is very under-invested space. And we already discussed that regulators do not necessarily support that. So there’s no way you can put your commercial money there and pay them back within a certain IP (intellectual property) protection period. That’s why our definition of longevity in Longevity Vision Fund, we invest only in viable economic models which exist today, whether it’s fighting cancer, different ideas around regeneration of organs and organs replacement, gene editing and gene therapy. So they need to find something which exists today and you can patent, but also, it should have a massive side effect, which is longevity side effect.
If you ask me, I would love to invest directly in the longevity and age reversal and age science space, but I cannot bring commercial money into this field. The lack of commercial interest actually drives this under-investment stage.
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah. I mostly embrace the idea of Altos Lab and some of the work which is done by a lot of pioneers in this space, including David Sinclair, who’s a good friend. We invested in a few of his companies as well. So, this is great. I’m also mindful that whatever comes from technology sector brings its kind of engineering aspect and engineering view on human body and biology. So it’s so tempting to think about our biology is just set of binary signals, zero and one and combination of this is biology. And we’ve seen this approach to fail or perform not to the expectations, like in case of Google and Calico, unless I don’t know something. And let’s see how it goes with Altos. But I think just vetting, using this certain proportion of your wealth. In case of Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner, who is behind Altos as well, just small piece of it to try to move a needle.
And this such a promising avenue as a epigenetic reprogramming is a great thing for the benefits of society and the world. I’m not sure if this is going to be commercial. I’m not sure if they’re going to be successful. Because what we’ve seen in… We actually invested more with the East Coast and Boston ecosystem rather than Silicon Valley and this IT and tech ecosystem because there is always the tension to think about this biological problem in engineering terms, and I’m not sure if we’re there yet. Kevin said that I embrace every money, commercial, non-commercial, government, pro bono, grants which comes into the space because I think we need to invest. And specifically in the US, I think in the previous question, you mentioned very important point.
And again, I say it with a lot of love. If you think about US healthcare system, it’s the most expensive and the most inefficient healthcare system in the world. With 18% of GDP spent on healthcare and even pre-COVID, three out of five years, we’ve seen average lifespan or life expectancy decreasing, not increasing.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: That’s right.
Dr. Sergey Young: Why is that? UK spends 8% on healthcare. Singapore spends 5% on healthcare. And Singapore or Japan, I think, are the two countries on Earth with the highest average lifespan. I mean, there’s something wrong, and there’s something that we need to change there as well. And if you ask me, I actually think that the change will come not from existing players. That’s why we are very supportive of this technology. They disrupted this space.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yes. Yeah.
Dr. Sergey Young: The change will come from who knows, probably big tech or some other players. And I’m obviously very mindful about role of big tech in this world. I think it’s really dominating. I have my old questions how this needs to be regulated and balanced. But if you ask me, there is a scenario that in 10 years from now, the largest healthcare healthcare companies on Earth going to be called Google, Apple and Microsoft.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: So even though on one hand you’re here, you’re in the East Coast where your investments…
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: … you still have your eyes open clearly on the West Coast and Silicon Valley. I want to just say… I want to get your thoughts. There’s a lot of things that I want to say that I want to unpack. There’s huge healthcare inequality in our country. And so when you tease out the demographic of who’s living… I think across the board, life… I know. I know in the latest study that I read across the board, socioeconomic, race, all of us are losing ground in this country. But you can see huge differences between…
Dr. Sergey Young: Oh yeah.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: … African Americans, Hispanic Americans and so forth. Healthcare inequality here is a fundamental issue, and I’d like your thoughts. I think you’re already answering your thoughts because fundamental to your mission is making it available to everybody.
Dr. Sergey Young: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And this cost, this bringing the cost down considerably, I just love that. I want your thoughts there. But I also want to hear why. So we’re investing billions of dollars. The NIH (National Institutes of Health) is this extraordinary institute that has everything siloed. So all the chronic diseases of aging are being aggressively researched. I think they’re pretty well-funded. You can speak to that if you agree or not. But we aren’t willing to sort of to unify them and put that money towards aging. And you know better than anybody why there’s such enormous resistance to this concept when we can look at the data on aging as the driver of these chronic diseases, and it dwarfs it. So we’re looking at cancer. If we’re looking at lung cancer and smoking, smoking is nothing compared to aging. I don’t understand why the aha, why hasn’t the light bulb gone off at NIH?
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah. Well, that’s a huge topic. First of all, I hate the idea of inequality in terms of the access to healthcare.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Dr. Sergey Young: And I don’t know. Was it Jeffrey Bland? Or someone else study for two zip codes which are neighboring, right, in one area. You can have the life expectancy difference of up to 15 years. And it’s even worse in the UK. There, in some of the parts of London, it’s like 17 years. Why is that? And obviously, as someone… And I’m pretty sure it’s a mission for all of us. I mean, we don’t want to have it in a country with this kind of resources and scientific capital, right, and technological breakthroughs, why is that? And I think it’s one thing you can work on is trying to breach this gap. And the other thing you can work on is a massive democratization and creating this whole technology based version of healthcare which can be offered to everyone.
And I choose to work on this second mission because these improvement rates are times, times more than any other avenues there I can take. And that’s what I like. So it’s almost like trying to work on equal access to cellphones 20 years ago while you can work on technology and just make it, democratize it to the extent that you want. So that’s one. Second piece of it, I think there is… And I’m not a citizen of US. I’m European. I have European passport and from there, so I don’t have full rights to talk about internal US problems. But again, that’s why every time I tell about this I said I do it with a lot of love. But I think there’s certain mismatch between the global nature of American business and the state by state nature of regulation. I mean, sometimes they just non-comparable. It’s very difficult to bring people’s agenda to the regulation. And business has huge incentives to produce not organic but non-organic meat and fish and vegetables, and we can go on and on. And that’s why you have study.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Makes money. Disease makes money… Yeah.
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah, of course. Yeah. And that’s the case. But last thing I want to do is just to spend decades of my life in the courts and spending all my money to fight with the big business. But if you look at your study, just a thought, in so many cases you mentioned organic, right? Trying to look for organic sources. It’s obviously a little bit more expensive, sometimes two times more expensive. But if you load, this would be then subsequent cost of healthcare that you need to take. I mean, who knows if organic is actually inexpensive in comparison to between healthy-
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Cancer.
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah, absolutely. So, in this case, I think we are… As human beings, we always focus on today while the whole life cycle and healthcare cycle is through the whole life of every citizen, including US citizen as well. And finally, I think for every big idea, it takes time to embrace it and for the government entities and for people who are in charge of politics to get it, to embrace it, to start thinking that way.
And I think your work, my work, work of so many people that we know and our audience is just spread this work and see how the world has changed. And I’m great believer that the quantity of efforts will always result in quality of change. So I think it’s just a matter of few years, single digit years when it is going to be huge realization, if not in the US. I know a lot of countries, they usually small countries not in America who are thinking about ideas of recognizing Asia’s aging as disease and think about longevity in the form of the whole nation.
Some of the crazy people, including myself, I actually think in 20, 30 years from now, knowing what I know about science and technology, there’s no reason for developed country to have healthcare which is subject to insurance or co-payment from its citizens. So in other words, my dream. And I see where it’s going from science and technology perspective completely democratized healthcare to make it free of charge, part of universal basic income or universal basic set of services. Whether we’re going to do it in the US, I’m not sure. The balance of power sometimes is not in our favor, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to see more and more countries on Earth which going to work towards this idea. And obviously, technology and science will help in democratization of access to that.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, yeah. Amen. It just seems to me that the kind of passion and energy behind cracking this nut, behind recognizing aging as the biggest risk factor for all the chronic disease, the energy behind this from you, from the people investing in the Altos Lab and the scientists there. Peter Diamandis, I saw who’s the XPRIZE with you. He presented at A4M. I lectured at A4M, and he was there on the main stage. And he’s so inspirational. I mean, there’s a lot of really brilliant minds wrapping their energy around cracking this nut. So I agree with you that there may be a big aha to be had. And it may happen in the smaller countries. I agree with you on that as well where there’s a real paradigm shift and then maybe the US will be dragged kicking and screaming towards the future. Maybe our government will.
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah. Yeah. It is okay. I mean, for a lot of big corporations, the innovations happening outside this corporation. So for some of the big countries, they would just need to look at other countries examples. That’s why I’m in UAE, I’m in Saudi Arabia, I’m in Singapore, I’m in Japan. Well, let’s see how it goes. But the good news about US that it’s always great in looking at the best examples, even outside the ecosystem and trying to bring it back to the country. So I’m really hopeful of that.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: I want to just circle back to… I have to be mindful of our time. I have a lot of questions for you. I just wanted to color in because I think people might have some questions around this. You talked about Google, Calico failing, and I just wanted you to describe Calico and what they were doing and why they didn’t succeed.
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah. So when I mentioned Google Calico, I said they either failed or has not performed to the public expectations, right?
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Dr. Sergey Young: So it might easily be second case, right, or something is happening there, we just don’t know there. And next month, they will come up with something great. So this one. Second…
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Wait, who are they?
Dr. Sergey Young: … that what right-
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Can you just define them for our who they are for our listeners?
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah. Well, this is the huge platform inside the Google when they attracted great scientists, great entrepreneurs.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Great.
Dr. Sergey Young: And they were trying to crack the code of aging. And I think investments announced they were up to $3 billion. They started back in 2013. It’s almost like 10 years from now.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Dr. Sergey Young: I don’t remember that we’ve seen anything fundamental or radical came out from it. So, why is that? And the answer is very simple. I don’t know because they were so protective…
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Just everything.
Dr. Sergey Young: … of everything which is kept in there. And even when I was writing the book, this Science and Technology of Growing Young, I actually trying to interview people from Calico. And with one exception, which is in the book, I’m not going to mention. Yeah. It was just silence there. Talk about all the people in our field, whether it’s technologists, entrepreneurs, companies, regulators, scientists, people are very kind of talkative. They talk about what they do, what’s the outcome of that? What is their budget or investment required? What’s their dream? What’s their mission as well? We haven’t seen it.
And part of the explanation… I’m not sure Google actually needs my explanation. It’s a great company. Done a lot of breakthroughs in so many areas of human life. And part of this, when you work in technology, you need to be super secretive about what you doing because it’s a really difficult competitive situation. So probably, they took the same lenses in terms of confidentiality to this project, which I think… Remember my earlier point about the complexity of human biology?
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Dr. Sergey Young: And I think human biology problem and challenge is not going to be solved by one person in one location. It’s going to be a lot of collaboration for so many of us. And I’m not doing this. I’m actually enabler of it. I’m supporting this with what I have. I’ve done investments for 20 years. I had my personal life prizes seven years ago. And because of that, I thought, “Okay, I want to support development of this space.” So I went to my investors, and they trusted me on my previous work and allowed me to create this Longevity Vision Fund, and I’m very proud of it. But in the end of the day, it’s hard work of scientists, entrepreneurs, technologists and healthcare workers who made all the change. I’m just trying to enable that and bring just a little bit of vision there and a dream, what we can have when it’s 10, 20 years to expand our horizons.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: It’s awesome. It’s just really, really exciting. I’ve got so many more questions. We’re just going to have… I have to have a part two because we completely… We diverted. Our entire conversation has been a diversion from my original set of things that I’ve wanted to talk to you about. So we’ll have to have a part two. Let me think. I want to know… So you’re investing in things that are going to be ready for real time soon. So I want to get your idea on what we should be thinking about as accessible to us and what we should be using now. I’d like to hear your thoughts on longevity drugs, folded into that. Where you’re at with rapamycin. I know there’s finally some human research happening. Where you’re at with metformin? Metformin in healthy individuals, not just metformin for type two diabetics. So yeah, talk to me about that. What’s ready for primetime or very close to be ready for primetime and the drugs?
Dr. Sergey Young: Okay. So time to market for our companies varies from one year to 10 years. And the framework that I use in the book is, well, there’s something which is available now, and we’ll come back to that in a minute. And then there is what I call in new horizon of longevity innovations. And we’re going to cover this today. And then there’s something very futuristic, 25, 50 years from now when we are… Then it’s going to be combination of man and machine and a lot of changes in us as a biological species. But we’ll come back to that if we have time.
So what is available now? And this is very interesting, and this is what a lot of people find discouraging when they think about longevity. So I think if you want to extend your lifespan and healthspan today or reverse aging, majority of means that you have as a lifestyle intervention. And I love it. I mean, in the end of the day, obviously, it’s great to have a magic pill that you take and then become five, 10 years younger. But in the end of the day, it’s a result of your own discipline, hard work and your healthy choices in all of these fields that gives you the opportunity to stay on what we call a longevity bridge. So you need to stay healthy and happy for the next five, 10 years before you can embrace this whole outcome of innovation process and progress…
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Got it.
Dr. Sergey Young: … which is happening today,
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: You walk in the longevity bridge folks, all of us are on the longevity bridge as we wait for this technology. Okay, keep going.
Dr. Sergey Young: Absolutely. But also take a look what is available now. I think the medical diagnostic is a huge field. And this is where arrival of AI did amazing thing. The most important day of your life every year is not your birthday but day of your medical screening. That’s what I’m always tell. So mine was a, yeah, week ago in Human Longevity center in San Diego. Last three years, we had a discussion with radiologist with my doctor, but before that it was artificial intelligence which were scanning… Well, we’re looking at the scans from three Tesla full body MRI. And it’s been amazing. So human radiologists looking at the scans, working under pressure, and that’s unfortunately the norm for the doctor’s community today can identify… Well, let’s look at the breast cancer. Early stage breast cancer in 34% of cases. And you can understand that. I mean, as a human eye, it’s a scan and it’s early stage so you don’t know whether it’s yes or no or you don’t even see that.
But because AI has been trained on hundred thousand and now millions of different scans, it can actually connect the dots and see. Well, it’s very likely. What I’ve seen in thousand cases before that, it actually early stage breast cancer. And it can do it in 94% of cases.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yes.
Dr. Sergey Young: And I’m not kind of mutually exclusive guy. So I’m not saying it’s either human intelligence or artificial intelligence. I actually think convergence of this is the way for the future. So I’m not really afraid or I’m not questioning who will win, humans or artificial intelligence. I think it’s a little bit premature to see the risk there. But use of technology for medical screening, I think it’s amazing. I think all of these sensors, I can see where… Oura Ring, I use it to measure my sleep.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah.
Dr. Sergey Young: I use Apple Watch. And feel free to use Samsung watch or or WHOOP or whatever gadget you like. I mean, it’s already our personalized healthcare devices. I was fascinated with what has been done by Apple, and Apple has the track record of disrupting a lot of space, a lot of different segments. If you leisurely look at the functionality of your latest Apple Watch, you’re going to be amazed what it can do for your health as well. So I actually think early diagnostic, using your medical screen is your strategic tool to be really preventative about your health. Use of sensors. We invested in so many interesting sensor companies. One is this Biolinq in San Diego. They can actually measure not only glucose but number of hormones.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Wow.
Dr. Sergey Young: And again, this is perfect. I mean, I want to know this. All I’m waiting for is for some of the big players to add here glucose monitor. And you see there was the articles recently. The Apple might be working on this technology. I’m not sure this is going to be next year or two, but I’m pretty sure we’ll find a way to measure glucose and blood pressure. And then we’re done. It’s almost like 90% of the information. I want to track real time about my health. Okay, so this is about today. Stay on longevity bridge, use sensors, all of these diagnostic devices and that’s it. And the problem is it takes 17 years in the US from something being approved to something which majority of population can use, 17. So every time you visit the hospital next door, you’re actually traveling back in time. This is the version of medicine which is 20 years old. And I have…
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: At least.
Dr. Sergey Young: … a clinic, yeah, very close to me. I don’t want to use the name because they have amazing practice there. Well, I asked them, “Guys, can you send me the annual screen protocol?” Oh my goodness. And I couldn’t believe it. I mean, it’s still the same old stuff that we have 20, 40 years ago. So you need to be mindful that you need to be in the forefront. And if you have the influence on the use of technology in your organization.
Or in your practice, do that. There’s so many interesting things happening in this life and in technological field. So that’s today. Then, to make it easier, let’s talk about what we’re going to have in 10 years from now. Obviously, plus or minus, well, two or three years. And again, remember, I’m super idealistic optimist. So take it with a little bit of salt. So I’m pretty sure in 10 years from now, we’re going to have longevity and appeal. And it might be one of the existing drugs. And I’ll try to accommodate your question on rapamycin and metformin. Or it can easily be the new drug or substance that we know repurposed for the use in age reversal by artificial intelligence.
We invested two out of 18 companies, now portfolio. They use artificial intelligence to speed up the first part of drug discovery and drug development process. And they can compress it from two years into two months. Well, think about what’s the disruptive change it’s going to bring to the cost and the length of developing the drug. And I’m pretty sure that combination of human intelligence and artificial intelligence will give us an opportunity to be much faster and more efficient drug development. So I still don’t know whether it’s going to be all drug or it’s going to be new drug, but we’re going to see a number of these drugs. So today, if you go to CVS or Walgreens and you’re like, “Can I have something against aging?” They will think you’re crazy, or they will send you to cosmetics or supplements. That’s it. In 10 years from now, it can easily be metformin.
I like metformin. I’m 51 so I’m not taking this. I think it’s too early for me because I don’t have a risk of… I’m not prediabetic. And in the end of the day, I’m pretty sure… Again, I’m not a doctor. I’m pretty sure it works for people with the risk of obesity or diabetes. I’m not sure if it works for the general population. But American Federation of Aging, Nir Barzilai, a good friend, amazing scientist working on the same trials. So it’s going to be probably at least 3000 people tested. And we’re going to see the outcome of this in three to five years from now.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And so what’s happening, TAME trial is moving forward.
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah, I think they’re in the final stage of fundraising, and I would not be surprised if this will be launched next year. So, I mean, this is great.
Not sure about rapamycin. It’s obviously the substance of more complex nature, which was created not necessarily for age reversal as well. I was lucky in genetic lottery, like majority of us. And we actually work a lot on specifically on gene editing and gene therapy front to help people who were unlucky with genetic lottery. What we call today orphan disease, rare disease, not that rare. There are 300 million people on earth suffering from rare disease. So they’re not that rare. But I was lucky in genetic lottery like many of us. So I’m healthy and happy at the age of 51. I don’t think I need to do experiment with my own health. I’m not a theoretical biohacker. And I think if I can avoid with intervention or wait for this intervention to become a norm, become tested and regulatory approved, I would rather wait.
So I would just wait for another five to 10 years what will come out of it. So longevity in appeal, second, organ regeneration. And we invest the use of our own lymph nodes supported with stem cells to regrow liver. It’s a company called LyGenesis. They based in Pittsburgh. So with one donor liver, they will be able to help 50 to 70 patients.
And the organ transportation, it’s a subject for another hour. We have hundred and 17,000 people on a waiting list for organ transplants, for donor organs in this country only in the US people. Die while waiting for organs. And they just started human trial. They got FDA approval last year, they’ve done a lot of trials on different species, and they starting human trials for sort of human trials literally next month. So this is amazing.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Amazing.
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah, we’re going to see 3D printed organs, obviously, two most difficult ones. And I’m not sure if we’re going to solve it at all, going to be heart and brain. But the end of the day, we going to see use of animal material in the field of organ regeneration as well.
So this is happening. So second piece, that we’re going to see in 10 years. Think about the old car. We can replace so many parts of the old car, even an engine. And that’s the way for us to extend the life of this car. So similar metaphor, we will use for human body, at least. I’m not sure about kind of human brain and soul and spiritual part of it, which is important. But in the end of the day, I mean we can see some of the bionic parts already. And we are going to see this more and more until the quantity of these changes will result the quality into this. And the most exciting, and this is the third piece from what I call a new horizon, sorry.
Oh my goodness. What I call the new horizon of longevity innovation is gene editing and gene therapy. Finally, the first time in human history. We can amend our DNA to prevent not only rare diseases or genetic diseases but work with the really large scale problems and challenges and diseases that we have like diabetes, heart disease as well. And it’s going to…
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Dementia.
Dr. Sergey Young: … affect. Yeah, dementia. It’s going to affect billions of people on Earth. Obviously, we need to be careful. There are a lot of ethical and societal implication and barriers on that way, but I think it’s extremely promising, and we going to see a lot of it in 10 years from now.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: It’s really, really, really exciting. I wanted to underline again the fact that we can’t, even with all of these exciting things on the horizon. We could skip the longevity bridge. In fact, I know there are people in longevity science who live really rough lives because they think they’re going to have a new organ pretty soon or a couple new. They’re going to need a few new organs if they’re living…
Dr. Sergey Young: Yeah, I don’t want to use the names, but I know people who actually… It’s probably around 10 to 15% of the longevity community. They would drink a lot of sugary drinks, a lot of alcohol. I’m like, “Guys, are you bloody crazy? I mean, you working on longevity. You need to look young.” And they’re like, “No, Sergey, this is all for you. You need to be… Or we don’t care. In five years time, we’re going to have a magic feel and that’s it. Yeah. I mean, it’s funny in a way, but also it’s a reflection of how promising all of the things that are happening in this world today.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Yeah, it’s pretty extraordinary. Well listen, Sergey, it was so fun to be with you, and I look forward to having another. I should have started this conversation with buckle up at everybody because it was just a big tour de force of where we’re headed. But also just a lot of positivity. I love your energy, I love your enthusiasm. I’d love that your commitment to making the world a better place. Not just you and those surrounding you but all of us. It feels so good. And your commitment to what we need to be doing right here, which is very much in alignment with what I’m about and what a lot of our listeners in functional medicine are about. So listen, thank you so much for joining me again and it’s to be continued.
Dr. Sergey Young: Thank you, Kara. Yeah. Thanks to you for all the work you’re doing and all our audience. I mean, this is amazing. It’s really collective effort. And for someone who want to follow me, it’s Sergey Young 200 on Twitter and Instagram. And if you want to know more about longevity technologies and science from the eyes of investor, go to Amazon and it’s called The Science and Technology of Growing Young book. Enjoy.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: And let me say that that will be on our show notes. We’ll link to his book. It’s such a great book and your own kind of approach is in there as well. And we will, all your social and how people can find you. You have a really fun, very active Instagram. You talk to a lot of really famous thought leaders in longevity. So we’ll make sure that everything is in the show notes, folks.
Dr. Sergey Young: Thank you.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: Okay, thanks.
Dr. Sergey Young: Thank you, Kara.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald: As always, thank you for listening to New Frontiers in Functional Medicine, where our sponsors help bring the very best minds in functional medicine, and today is no exception. Not everyone can be a sponsor on my platform, and I so appreciate the good work, relentless research, and generous support from my friends at Rupa Health, Biotics and Integrative Therapeutics. These are brands I know and trust in my own clinic and can confidently recommend to you. Visit them at RupaHealth.com, BioticsResearch.com and IntregrativePro.com, and please, tell them you learned about them on New Frontiers.
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Sergey Young is a longevity investor and visionary with a mission to extend healthy lifespans of at least one billion people. To do that, Sergey founded Longevity Vision Fund to accelerate life extension technological breakthroughs and to make longevity affordable and accessible to all.
Sergey is on the Board of Directors of the American Federation of Aging Research (AFAR), Innovation Board Member at XPRIZE, and one of the co-creators of Age Reversal XPRIZE global competition designed to cure aging. Sergey is also a Top-100 Longevity Leader, who is transforming the world, one workplace at a time, with Longevity@Work – the first non-profit corporate longevity program of its kind.
As the author of the double-bestselling book ‘The Science and Technology of Growing Young’, Sergey has also been featured as a top longevity expert and contributor on CNN, Fox News, and Forbes.