Bryan Johnson is 45 years old, many millions and a dream: to be 18. And no, it is not a diffuse dream, nor a generic wish. Johnson is convinced that he can do it and (with the help of a team of thirty doctors specializing in regenerative medicine) aims to “demonstrate through biostatistics a 25% reduction in aging in the 78 organs [de su cuerpo] by 2030”. That’s how it is trying.
Who is Bryan Johnson? Yeah, we’d better start with this. At the age of 30, Johnson created Braintree, a payment management company. It was a smashing success, and he sold it for around $800 million to Ebay in 2013.
Trouble in startup paradise. A “resounding success” on a professional level, because according to his own account, on a personal level the thing was a disaster. After leaving Braintree, he went through a period of deep depression that brought him to the brink of suicide. It was then that he discovered biotechnology.
And with his 800 million under his arm, Johnson plunged headlong into the biotech scene (first with a venture capital firm and then with a headset to analyze brain activity) until he was convinced that these new developments were the answers to his problems: science could rejuvenate him.
The “blueprint project”. Johnson contacted Oliver Zolman, a 29-year-old regenerative medicine doctor, and they got to work. The goal is not peccata minuta: “to have the brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, tendons, teeth, skin, hair, bladder, penis, and rectum of an 18-year-old.” “. Whatever that means.
They have been working on the project for a year and, thanks to the fact that we have a lot of information online, we know some of the keys to treatment: things like a vegan diet of (exactly) 1,977 calories a day; one hour of high-intensity exercise a day, three times a week; or go to sleep every day at the same time (after two hours with glasses that block blue light, mind you).
Does this make any sense? Little, really. Not because there are no simple interventions that can improve life expectancy (or reduce oxidative stress) but because these types of experiments, far from the usual clinical trials (and of which we have talked so much during the pandemic), have very difficult be something more than “the latest madness” of a man with a lot of money and free time.
However, it is important to clarify that it is not an idea without any connection to reality. If we examine the data, procedures and metrics of the project, we are going to use a lot of recent research. That is not to say that his proposal is solid (going from basic research to clinical recommendations is terribly difficult), but it does seem interesting as a way for new funding to reach this entire incipient branch of regenerative medicine.
There is a whole science working on this. Because, as Antonio Ortiz recalled, there are serious “lines of research” that “promote healthy aging and, in its most detached version of reality, rejuvenation.” Some of the world’s leading experts on this matter are, in fact, Spanish with Juan Carlos Izpisúa and María Blasco at the helm.
We are still far from the future that Bryan Johnson wants to live in. But that future is getting closer.
Image | Dustin Giallanza (via Blueprint Project)
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