Longevity: a market 10 times bigger than cancer? investor tool
Carlos de Rojas

Carlos de Rojas

Freelance Life Sciences journalist supporting technological and scientific solutions through content creation and international expansion.

Ageing, life extension, longevity.

This market is being named in different ways. If we ask who wants to live forever, it provokes a strong debate and many discrepancies, but asking who wants to live longer, sets a much more common point: almost everyone! Behind this question there is a multibillion-dollar opportunity that englobes several areas of health and research. Advances in cancer and alzheimer´s treatments, gene therapy or the study of stem cells, t-cells, proteins or even wellness tech, all can be included in this market. That is also the problem as everything can influence our health. So where to put the focus of investment and investigation, how to delimitate it in the most effective way? How to balance risks and rewards?

As new funding increases some of the most influential tech players and richest people in the world have joined the field. To advance faster in this area, it is becoming clear to the scientific experts that we need to better understand the similar pathologies of many diseases, the definition of the most important longevity biomarkers, the roots of ageing. Longevity should not be treated as a single disease, facing clinical trials in a more traditional way. From the side of investors, some directions to navigate in this extremely convoluted scenario seem more effective and profitable:

  • Platform technologies that can cover different approaches.
  • Deep learning to get insights from many interrelated scientific fields.
  • Being at the side of preventions, rather than the symptoms.
  • Portfolios with long term strategies, essential to sustain the progress.

Either way, just the existence and growth of this trend are fantastic news for all humanity. However, it is extremely important that the companies and public institutions reach common actions so as not waste resources and time. Because, in essence, this is what all this market is about: Time. We must acknowledge that small daily actions taking care of our health are still the best investment strategy by far.

The vision from the fund: Deep Knowledge Group

We talk to Remus Stanescu, Director of Longevity Financial Advisors, a subsidiary of Deep Knowledge Group. DKG is an investment fund focused on DeepTech and frontier technologies, especially on advanced biomedicine, and also a consortium of commercial and non-profit organizations. Their analytical and strategy approach has already turned them into one of the worldwide leading voices in the Longevity landscape.

Remus Stanescu

Q: Which are the particularities of investing in longevity vs biotech vs other industries?

First of all, Biotech and Biomedicine itself are characterised by much higher levels of complexity than other industries, requiring deeper science and more sophisticated approaches to analysis, forecasting, valuation and due diligence than other industries, such as for example FinTech.

For this reason, we also forecast that the Longevity Industry will see much higher failure rates than the already-high clinical trial failure rates of Biotech. Many investors are trying to apply the legacy frameworks of Biotech to Longevity, and we are already seeing many notable failures of the real-world applicability of this approach. The Longevity Industry requires much more sophisticated analytical frameworks, methods and approaches of equal complexity as the industry itself. We see Longevity as not just the biggest industry in human history, but the one with the largest potential social impact and humanitarian benefit as well.

“Extending the functional lifespan of humans by just one year is a ROI much more valuable than money.”

That it is this kind of return on investment that Deep Knowledge Group seeks above all else.

Q: Is it an obstacle for the development of this market, the existence of too many parameters for the average investor who wants to jump in this field?

Most investors significantly underestimate the actual overcomplexity of Longevity by viewing it through the lens of typical Biotech investment approaches. There is in fact one unified and very pragmatic solution: the application of Biomarkers of Human Aging and Longevity for the validation of therapeutic, diagnostic and prognostic modalities as a method of overcoming the vast yet unrecognized gap between successful results in model organisms, such as mice, and their translation to humans.

When we speak of biomedical Longevity sectors, such as treatments, interventions or drug discovery, it will be absolutely necessary to use consensus frameworks. We can assume that it will be in the next 1-2 years. In the meantime, we would recommend avoiding investments in sectors dependent on the outcomes of clinical trials, and consider instead one of the numerous other non-biomedical sectors, such as AgeTech, Longevity FinTech, WealthTech, InsurTech, etc.

Q: Do you focus on the success of the whole industry, but how a disruptive innovation from a scientist fits in your analysis?

We have formulated our investment strategy betting on the success of the entire industry and have identified 20 individual sectors of interest for this very purpose. For now, and for the past few years, we have been prioritising sectors that already have good levels of human validation. Besides these, we have also been heavily prioritising some biomedically-focused sectors, in particular AI for Longevity and Biomarker Panels of Human Longevity.

With regards to your question, we have been interested from the very start in 2014, intensively monitoring the full scope of activities happening in the most advanced sectors of Longevity science and R&D, as well as intersectional and convergent sectors of Frontier Science and Technology, such as NeuroTech or Space Medicine. From all of our analytical subsidiaries, 5 of them are focused on the life sciences. We aim to support those projects that have the highest ratios of disruptiveness and real-world validation.

Q: What are your next steps in 2022?

Throughout the next year we will be launching 10 structured financial products tied to the Longevity industry to provide the opportunity of at least partial liquidity, without completely freezing investors’ funds, enabling a more dynamic and adjustable kind of exposure to the industry.

“In the longer run, our more significant plan is to establish the world’s first Longevity Hedge Fund.”

In our opinion there are a lot of inconsistencies and gaps in what kinds of exposure are available to investors, and a substantial unmet need for products and groups employing a more sophisticated investment strategy and approach. Especially so when one considers the disproportionately high number of overhyped and overvalued companies in the Longevity space lacking the kinds of scientific validation to back those numbers up, alongside the many good and promising companies characterising the sector.

The vision from the scientist: Institute for Aging Research.

Few people in the world possess such a deep background in longevity research as Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research. Nir has an astonishing profile, very well captured in

Nir Barzilai

Beyond empty promises of eternal life, he firmly believes that science can extend the life quality of humanity for many years. Some time ago, he visited a centenary woman for one of his investigations. When she opened the door, she was smoking. Barzilai asked her “did not the doctor tell you that you should stop?” “Yes, five doctors”, she answered. “And?”, “They are all dead”. Many other smokers are not that lucky. In any case, another small indication that this field is influenced by countless factors.

Q: Which are the particularities of investing in longevity vs biotech vs other industries?

The major difference is that while we want to increase healthspan and lifespan with our gerotherapeutics, we need to develop it first to show effect in a specific disease. This means a longer runway to goal. Also, investors are watching (praying for..) for an FDA relaxation on indications to target aging and prevent age-related diseases.

Q: Multiple factors can influence longevity, multiple players from diverse fields are in this market, so how, where should investors put the focus to drive better this field?

It is very different kind of investment to think how we can extend health span with in our ~115 years of maximal life span as a species (like with rapamycin, metformin, senolytics) and break this barrier (~115 years) by other rejuvenation targets, needs more resources and much longer time.

Geroscientists have built a (still growing) set of hallmarks of aging. Those hallmarks decline with aging and when you fix them they extend healthspan and lifespan in pre-clinical models. This is a good beginning for investors. Also the Longevity Biotechnology Association has been formed to standardize the area, provide scientific connections to development and be active ‘lobbying’.

Q: What are the upcoming projects of the Institute of Aging Research for 2022?

The Institute targets all hallmarks of Aging and gives services for investigators in assessment of aging in cells, animals and humans. We are testing the biology of aging effect (biopsies) in small clinical cross over studies of gerotherapeutic and geroprotectors, and we are working with AFAR on recruiting 10,000 centenarians to validate some of the finding we had with our existing cohort, finding genotypes that slows aging.

New Technologies: Will cryptocurrencies drive longevity?

Apart from the moves of billionaires such as Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner, who are recruiting some of the world’s leading experts in aging for their company Altos Labs, or Larry Page, Google co-founder, behind a company also investigating in this area, In the last year, important donations from the crypto community are going to research funding too.

A lot of people in the crypto community are software engineers or programmers, professionals who understand very well the power of technology and want to support other emerging industries, such as life extension. The twitter bios of some of them reflect this desire, such as the Balaji Srinivasan’s, the CTO of Coinbase, that claims: “Immutable money, infinite frontier, eternal life. #Bitcoin.”

A clear example of crypto currencies jumping in this field is VitaDAO, a decentralised and open cooperative with a focus on human longevity. In 2021 VitaDAO launched its first project, The Longevity Molecule. This research is being performed at the University of Copenhagen, where the Associate Professor Morten Scheibye-Knudsen´s lab focuses on understanding the molecular basis of aging.

The Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, also donated 1000 Ether to the Methuselah Foundation, and the Gitcoin community has chosen to raise cryptocurrency donations for projects supporting longevity research too. Meanwhile, The Longevity Science Foundation (LSF), a Swiss non-profit dedicated to advancing the healthy human lifespan, has announced it will use blockchain technology in its funding selection process. It would be really exciting to see more healthcare projects in collaboration with crypto currencies, an alternative and promising method to gain more supporters in longevity.

On their behalf, Deep Knowledge Group has even launched the Longevity Card, with which you get offers for a healthy lifestyle. And perhaps, the currency of the future will be time itself. Will we be exchanging goods or working tasks to extend our life?

Who are the leading scientist in this area?