Bezos bets on biotech

JOHNSON-TAX/BEZOS Jeff Bezos | Reuters

Bezos, born on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque in New Mexico, has for the past few years been actively chasing the gateway to longevity. He is one of the bigshot investors in Altos Labs, a California-based startup, which is working towards creating a technology aimed at resuscitating human cells and stretching life, or, to put it plainly, infringing age.

Altos Labs, with the solid support of Bezos, is attracting talent with salaries as high as $1 million a year, while also offering them the flexibility and freedom to do anything they wish, to understand how cells age, and, if possible, reverse it. Spanish biochemist Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, who is known for his research in mixing embryos of humans and monkeys, will be taking charge soon at the San Diego branch of Altos Labs.

Bezos Expeditions, which manages Bezos’s investments, has also invested in other biotech companies that are studying human cells, working towards curing cancer and trying to solve hunger. In April 2014, Bezos Expedition invested close to $200 million in Juno Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company. Three years later, BE invested in the future of food—Plenty—a vertical farming startup that develops methods for crops to flourish in a pesticide-free habitat.

Bezos has also invested in Unity Biotechnology, a startup that not only focuses on ageing but also makes drugs that can make a person totally free of diseases related to ageing.

People close to Bezos say he has always had an inclination towards the unfathomable and likes to delve into uncharted territories. Now, he wants to spend time on projects that interest him, like his space venture Blue Origin. The world’s richest man made a short journey into space in July 2021, in the company's rocket—New Shepard.

It is said that once Bezos sets his eye on something, he gets it. Many are betting big on Bezos’s hopes to get the better of eternal life. While different studies have said that ageing cannot be stopped, backers of biological reprogramming believe ageing is far more pliable than how one perceives it to be. Bezos believes an elongated life could actually happen, and aiming at this, he most likely will continue investing in biotech companies.

In a letter to Amazon shareholders before he resigned as the company’s CEO in 2021, Bezos quoted British biologist Richard Dawkins, “Staving off death is a thing that you have to work at… If living things don’t actively work to prevent it, they would eventually merge with their surroundings and cease to exist as autonomous beings. That is what happens when they die.”