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Crypto billionaire and bioengineer launch new anti-ageing start-up

By Monica Athnasious

Dec 15, 2021

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Though the idea and historic human desire to ‘cure’ ageing has been a prevalent, unwavering topic in our scientific discussions, its virality spiralled following reports of resident billionaire Jeff Bezos funding the anti-ageing venture AltosLabs. Now, much like the billionaire boom in space—the latest being Yusaku Maezawa handing out cash off-planet—anti-ageing has become the new race among the rich. Enter NewLimit and its ambitious co-founders: crypto billionaire Brian Armstrong and bioengineer and tech investor Blake Byers. The company’s goal? To help us live foreverwell, more precisely, to greatly extend our human lifespan.

Often when we think of anti-ageing, our minds instantly conjure up superficial images of wrinkle-free, ageless faces—I mean, we are right in the middle of a boom of Botox after all—but the NewLimit co-founders have something different in mind. For Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, and Byers, who has a PhD in bioengineering from Stanford University, the goal focuses on and prioritises the extension of healthspan as opposed to just lifespan. It’s aim? To improve quality of life in age-related health issues.

“Imagine if you could live the same number of years, but be free from pain, and have the same mobility and cognition as someone in their thirties. If we could maintain this state, how many of us would still want to have our lifespan end at the ‘normal’ time?” the founders stated in a press release last week. “Ageing is one of the largest sources of pain and suffering hiding in plain sight all around us, and we believe there is a moral imperative to try and end this suffering that affects every one of us,” they continued. But will it be available to all of us? We’ll get into that shortly, but first, let’s look at what you’re all here for—the tech.

Though the co-founders acknowledged that the pursuit to ‘cure’ ageing is “ambitious” and will likely take many, many decades to come to successful fruition (if possible), they’ve also added that it is imperative for them to start as soon as possible. NewLimit hopes to do this through epigenetics. But what is it? Epigenetics, as mentioned as part of the press release, is a phenomenon that began 15 years ago—a discovery which showed that “your cells are far more plastic than [previously] assumed.” With as little as four proteins, cells can be completely changed.

Input noted how the founders reference these claims from Nobel Prize-winning research, first published in 2006, that describes these four proteins as “Yamanaka factors” and uses them “to reprogram aged cells into immature cells—creating stem cells, the undifferentiated cells common in embryos, from the plain old issue in your body right now.” This is what NewLimit hopes to utilise in its aim to aid age-related health concerns and bring back the regenerative qualities of our bodies in youth.

“NewLimit plans to initially focus on this mechanism: epigenetic reprogramming. Put simply, we want to figure out a way to restore the regenerative potential we all had when we were younger, but somehow lost. The last year has emphasised this point on a global scale. We still do not know why the elderly have a weaker immune system and are more susceptible to infection and receive less protection from vaccines,” the founders claimed.

The company’s first steps to such programming is to develop the necessary “machine learning models” to understand what changes occur in our bodies with age and how they can be stopped or even reversed. 

Back to that very important question, will this be available to the everyday person or just for the Bezos billionaires of the world? Armstrong and Byers addressed this concern in the same press release. They claim that, like most state-of-the-art breakthrough advancements which often first come with a hefty price tag, the same will occur with NewLimit. However, overtime the cost of anything new drives down and becomes increasingly accessible to everyone. “Some of these products take decades to get to lower costs, but we hope to move much faster than that,” they stated.

The company is still in its infant stages, with its founding team yet to be completely formed. NewLimit is currently on the lookout for like-minded individuals interested in the pursuit and progression of biotech. Who knows? You could be that individual.