Could Jeff Bezos Defy Aging? Here’s What We Know About It

Jeff Bezos is on a mission to conquer aging. He has just recruited Hal Barron from GlaxoSmithKline to help lead Altos Labs, the ambitious new anti-aging company with billions of investment. So what does science really say about this? Could we beat aging?

Aging isn’t just a change in how we feel or look, aging happens at a cellular level. In a lab culture dish, adult skin cells divide roughly 50 times before stopping. But skin cells from a newborn baby can divide 80 or 90 times. And on the flip side, cells from someone elderly divide only around twenty times.

Aging is also evident in our genes. Our genetic material is modified over time chemicals can be attached that change which genes are switched on or off. These are called epigenetic changes, and they build up as we age. Another kind of change takes place at the ends of our cell’s DNA. 

Repeating segments of DNA called telomeres act like the plastic tip of a shoelace, preventing the twisted coils of genetic material from fraying at the ends or knotting together. But these telomeres shorten each time a cell divides. We don’t know if short telomeres are merely a mark of aging, like grey hair, or are part of the process by which cells age.

Of course, nobody knows whether Bezos’s company can succeed in helping extend the human lifespan. But what is clear is that by studying ageing, exciting new discoveries are bound to emerge. Never listen to anyone who says the big questions have already been answered. The dramatic breakthroughs will profoundly change the experience of being human in the coming century.