Science | September 7, 2021 11:21 am

Jeff Bezos Is Funding an “Age Reversal” Startup

Thanks to the scientific wonders of biological reprogramming, we could be in for an extra 50+ years of Bezos

CEO and founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos laughs as he participates in a discussion during a Milestone Celebration dinner September 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. Economic Club of Washington celebrated its 32nd anniversary at the event.
Just an evil genius cackling maniacally to himself
Alex Wong/Getty Images

After stepping down as Amazon CEO earlier this summer, Jeff Bezos has turned his attention to various other passions and projects, such as traveling to the cusp of space in a penis-shaped rocket. The latest post-retirement scheme our very own real-life supervillain has cooked up in his basement lair? A mysterious “age reversal” startup.

Bezos has reportedly invested in Altos Labs, a startup looking for the fountain of youth in biotechnology. Founded earlier this year, the company is dedicated to reversing the aging process through the fine art of something scientists call biological reprogramming — which does kind of sound like something a sci-fi supervillain would cackle about maniacally. The company is reportedly luring university students with million-dollar salaries, and counts Bezos and Russian-born billionaire Yuri Milner among its supporters, per a report from MIT Tech Review.

Shinya Yamanaka, who won a Nobel Prize in 2012 for discovering the biological reprogramming process, will serve as a senior scientist for the firm and chair its scientific advisory board. Yamanaka’s Nobel Prize-winning research found that cells can be reprogrammed to revert back to a state with the properties of embryonic stem cells. The biological reprogramming process has been called a potential “elixir of life” by Spanish scientist Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, who is also reportedly joining the Altos Labs venture.

So what does any of that mean? Is Jeff Bezos financing a project that will allow him to live forever? Are we going to be stuck with Jeff Bezos for all eternity — or at least until climate change wipes us all out? According to Izpisua Belmonte, the biological reprogramming process could extend human lifespans by as much as 50 years, and research the scientist has conducted on mice has been tentatively promising, with some mice showing signs of tissue becoming younger. Other mice subjected to biological reprogramming, however, developed embryonic tumors that could become cancerous, so clearly there are still some kinks to be worked out before any of us — even Jeff Bezos — is likely to get our hands on the elixir of life.

Regardless, if the age-reversing powers of biological reprogramming ever do become available to humans, Jeff Bezos will obviously be first on the list. While some might argue that Bezos would maybe do better to lend his philanthropic efforts to more charitable ventures than one that could extend his own life, I can’t pretend I wouldn’t also shovel any billions I had into attempts to prolong my youth, considering I’ve already devoted a sizable portion of my income to anti-aging products at Sephora. Fortunately for those of us without Bezos billions to devote to age-reversal research, at least there’s retinol.