According to entrepreneur Dr. J. Craig Venter, “Your age is your number one risk factor for almost every disease.” This means that the most efficient way to fight disease isn’t by treating them individually, but slowing down the aging process itself. And that is exactly what Dr. Venter hopes to do through his new company Human Longevity.
But how does one take on the massive task of slowing the aging process? Through data-- tons and tons of data. Dr. Venter wants Human Longevity to be “the largest human DNA sequencing operation in the world”. Initially, he hopes to process 40,000 human genomes a year. And eventually, he wants to process 100,000 genomes a year. Human Longevity will then combine the DNA data with the participants’ health data. From this, they hope to gain insight into the genetic causes of aging and age-related illnesses such as cancer.
Many scientists are excited about the prospect. Boston University professor Dr. Thomas Perls said, “I feel strongly that is a wonderful scientific thing to do. He’s… throwing a lot of money at this to do a lot of science quickly.” According to Dr. Perls, most people are able to live into their 80s if they maintain a healthy, active lifestyle, but the ability to live past 100 is much rarer and relies largely on genetics.
Others question whether sequencing genomes will yield usable insights, how Human Longevity will make money, and even how it will compete with other anti-aging companies such as Calico, which was started by Google’s chief executive Larry Page.
But Dr. Venter and the others at Human Longevity are confident they’ll be able to make a big difference in people’s lives. According to cofounder Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, they may not be able to make people live forever, but hopefully they can make “100 years old the next 60.”