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Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year to develop methods to slow down aging

The Saudi royal family has created a non-profit organization called the Hevolution Foundation, which plans to spend up to $1 billion a year from its oil wealth to support basic research in the biology of aging and find ways to increase people’s life expectancy. in good health, a concept known as “health duration”.

This sum, if the Saudis can spend it, could make the Gulf state the biggest contributor to researchers trying to understand the underlying causes of aging and how it can be slowed down with drugs.

The foundation has yet to make an official announcement, but the scope of its efforts has been outlined on scientific meetings and is the subject of lively chatter among aging researchers who hope it will support large human studies of potential anti-aging drugs.

The fund is run by Mehmood Khan, a former Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and former Chief Scientist of PespsiCo, who was hired as CEO in 2020. “Our main goal is to extend the period of healthy life,” Khan said in an interview. “There is no greater medical problem on the planet than this.”

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The idea, popular among some long-lived scientists, is that if you can slow down the body’s aging process, you can delay the onset of many diseases and prolong the healthy years that people can enjoy when they get older. Khan says the foundation is going to provide grants for basic scientific research on the causes of aging, as others have done, but it also plans to go one step further by supporting drug research, including trials of “treatments whose patents have expired or have never been used.” “. commercialized.”

“We need to translate this biology in order to move on to clinical research in humans. Ultimately, it won’t change anything until something comes on the market that actually benefits patients,” Khan says.

Khan says the fund is authorized to spend up to $1 billion a year indefinitely and will be able to acquire financial stakes in biotech companies. Compared, division of the US National Institute on Aging The Foundation for Fundamental Research in the Biology of Aging spends about $325 million a year.

Hevolution has not announced which projects it will support, but people familiar with the group say it was considering funding the $100 million X Prize for age reversal technology and has reached a tentative agreement to fund a multi-thousand trial of diabetes drug metformin. old people. people.


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