Why We Do What We Do

Where is the Fountain of Youth that reverses aging? The world’s leading companies and research institutes are working at this moment to find an answer to that question that may be as old as the history of modern humans.

In January 2022, life science startup Altos Labs, sponsored by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, was launched. There are four Nobel Prize winners participating in Altos: David Baltimore, who discovered reverse transcriptase in retroviruses; Jennifer Doudna, who developed CRISPR-Cas9 as a genome-editing tool; Frances Arnold, who conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes; and Shinya Yamanaka, who discovered induced pluripotent stem cells. Altos, led by those four scientists, recruited famous anti-aging scientists from all over the world to form a dream team.

As we can guess from Dr. Yamanaka’s participation, Altos’ conception is cellular reprogramming using Yamanaka factors. If four Yamanaka transcription factors (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, C-Myc) in mature somatic cells are artificially overexpressed using viruses, plasmid vectors, mRNA, or proteins, somatic cells return to their early pre-differentiation state similar to embryonic stem cells. Altos aims to differentiate these reprogrammed induced pluripotent stem cells into target cells and use them as cell therapy.

Since their discovery in 2006, induced pluripotent stem cells have been studied in various fields, and they are now one of the pillars of aging research. However, there is a critical disadvantage of induced pluripotent stem cells that they may often cause cancer after transplantation. For that reason, some scientists question the commercial success of reprogramming, which is the manufacturing technology of induced pluripotent stem cells. Professor Alejandro Ocampo at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland recently expressed skepticism about whether reprogramming technology could be used in medicine in a near future. He said, “I think the concept is strong, but there is a lot of hype. It’s far away from translation. It’s risky and it’s a long way from a human therapy.”

Altos is not the first startup jumping into aging research based on large capital. In 2013, Calico Life Sciences was established with the support of Google’s co-founder Larry Page. However, Calico has not achieved noticeable results for nearly a decade; it only published an article about cellular reprogramming in 2020.

Thus, it does not seem easy to achieve meaningful results in aging research. Should humanity be humbler in facing the history of life that has lasted three billion years?

Surprisingly, however, nature seems to already know the answer. That is reproduction. The most mysterious fact about aging, though it seems obvious, is that two cells from aging parents fuse together and create a child – a being who is young and has not yet experienced the effects of aging. In the process of a sperm meeting an egg and becoming a fertilized egg, cells become reformatted, and epigenetic information, which is the stored aging memories, completely disappear without a trace. It can be so-called cellular reprogramming performed by nature. For billions of years, this reprogramming of nature has been performed without a mistake and our existence itself proves it. Additionally, the reprogramming of nature does not cause tumors, unlike imperfect human methods that are less than 20 years old. The purpose of Embryll transferring a pet’s cell into an egg during the manufacturing process of cloned embryonic primary cells is so that we can solely rely on nature’s reprogramming from the egg. It is clear that the egg is a wizard who brings new life into being.

From deep insights into the laws of nature, the history of life, and the possibilities and limitations of modern life sciences, we have reached our conclusion: If we have to reverse aging and restore the youth of precious old life next to us right now, the only option we have is to imitate reproduction, which is the law of nature.

There is no Nobel Prize winner at Embryll. However, there are young scientists who share and have faith in the mission. These scientists are veterinarians who have successfully performed animal cloning for more than 20 years, clinical research scientists who have conducted various clinical studies following the regulations of the FDA and USDA, and young cell biologists who have studied the aging and reprogramming of cells. Cloned embryonic primary cells are manufactured by their insights and collaboration. Although these cells are currently being transplanted only into pets, they may be transplanted into humans as well in a near future. That is why we invite all who are curious about this remarkable and historically unprecedented mission of transplanting youth to join us.

References

[1] Altos Labs, https://www.altoslabs.com/

[2] Takahashi K, Yamanaka S. Induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic and adult fibroblast cultures by defined factors. Cell. 126 (4): 663–76. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2006.07.024. PMID 16904174.

[3] Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever. MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/09/04/1034364/altos-labs-silicon-valleys-jeff-bezos-milner-bet-living-forever/

[4] Calico Life Sciences, https://www.calicolabs.com/

[5] Roux A. et al. Partial reprogramming restores youthful gene expression through transient suppression of cell identity. bioRxiv. 2021; (Published online May 23, 2021) https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.05.21.444556