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The eccentric billionaire who founded Amazon in 1994, is understood to be among a group of high-profile investors funding a “rejuvenation” startup in Northern California. The company Altos Labs was founded earlier this year by Russian billionaire Yuri Millner and is experimenting with so-called biological reprogramming technology. The tech, should it prove effective, could potentially extend the human lifespan by an impressive 50 years.
Mr Bezos stepped down as CEO of Amazon earlier this summer and has instead focused his attention on other ventures, including the spaceflight company Blue Origin.
He made headlines in late July when he flew to the edge of space aboard his New Shepard rocket – just days after Sir Richard Branson became the world’s first billionaire astronaut.
Some of his attention now appears to have been diverted towards Altos Labs, where researchers say they will attempt to restore cells to a “primitive” stem cell state, allowing them to heal and regenerate.
Manuel Serrano, a researcher with the company, told Technology Review: “The philosophy of Altos Labs is to do curiosity-driven research.
“This is what I know how to do and love to do.
“In this case, through a private company, we have the freedom to be bold and explore.
“The aim is to understand rejuvenation. I would say the idea of having revenue in the future is there, but it’s not the immediate goal.”
Dr Serrano has previously worked with stem cells by experimenting on genetically engineered mice.
As part of his research, Dr Serrano and his colleagues have “reprogrammed” adult mice cells to behave like embryonic stem cells.
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The research, which was published in the journal Nature, could one day help scientists develop regenerative therapies without the need to grow stem cells in a petri dish.
Among the other scientists involved in the project, is Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of the Gene Expression Laboratories at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.
Earlier this year, Professor Belmonte and a team of researchers claimed to have created the world’s first human-monkey embryo.
The controversial study kept the hybrid embryos alive for up to 20 days in a laboratory.
The research, the study’s authors claimed, will help scientists better understand how humans and primates develop in the early stages.
Altos Labs is reportedly looking to establish research bases all over the globe, including Cambridge in the UK.
According to Technology Review, the company has already raised an impressive £195.9million ($270million) to support this venture.
And this is not the first time Mr Bezos is reported to have invested in biotech companies.
He has previously funded the anti-ageing company Unity Biotechnology, which is designing drugs and treatments that could stave off the worst effects of ageing.
The company, which is also based in California, received more than £217.6million ($300million) in funding.
Nathaniel David, president of Unity Biotechnology, said in 2018: “Osteoarthritis standard of care begins with ibuprofen, then steroids, and then most people’s standard of care is just accepting it: You’re old, that sucks, and you’re now in pain for the rest of your life.
“But we think there’s a better way, by looking through the lens of biological insight of why those diseases happen in the first place.”
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