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Genome entrepreneur Craig Venter launches 'healthy ageing' startup

10 March 2014
Appeared in BioNews 745

Dr Craig Venter, founder of Celera Genomics and one of the first to sequence the human genome, has teamed up with stem cell pioneer Dr Robert Hariri and X Prize Foundation founder, Dr Peter Diamandis, to create a new company using genomic data to target age-related diseases.

Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), which has attracted $70 million of initial investor funding, will conduct one of the largest human sequencing operations to produce a genetic database geared towards age-related health conditions. It will also develop cell-based therapies to address age-related decline in stem cell function.

'HLI is going to change the way medicine is practised by helping to shift to a more preventive, genomic-based medicine model which we believe will lower healthcare costs', said Dr Venter. 'Our goal is not necessarily lengthening life, but extending a healthier, high performing, more productive life span'.

The company has already acquired two sequencing systems from Illumina and has announced plans to sequence 40,000 human genomes per year from healthy and disease-affected children, adults and 'super-centenarians'. It hopes to increase this to 100,000 genomes per year.

HLI's initial focus will be on cancer. In a press statement, the company explains: 'While many are tackling this area using gene sequencing and other advanced technologies, there has not been a comprehensive clinical effort to combine germ line, human genome and tumor genome sequencing along with comprehensive biochemical information from each patient'. Dr Venter said cancer is 'just the first of a multitude of diseases we will be sequencing this year'.

As well as genomic data, HLI will obtain microbiome data from patients. The company hopes to gain a better understanding of what role microbiomes in the gut, mouth, skin and lungs play in a person's illness and will explore how the body's circulating chemicals contribute to their health and drug response.

HPI has already announced collaborations with Metabolon Inc., University of California, San Diego, and the J. Craig Venter Institute.

'Between 1910 and 2010 improvements in medicine and sanitation increased the human lifespan by 50 percent from 50 to 75 years', said Dr Diamandis. 'Today with the emergence of exponential technologies such as those being pioneered and advanced by HLI we have the potential to meaningfully extend the lifespan even further'.

A Genetic Entrepreneur Sets His Sights on Aging and Death
New York Times |  4 March 2014
For his next act, genome wiz Craig Venter takes on aging
Reuters |  4 March 2014
Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) Launched to Promote Healthy Aging Using Advances in Genomics and Stem Cell Therapies
PR Newswire (press release) |  4 March 2014
Will 100 be the new 60? Biotech startup Human Longevity thinks so
CBS News |  5 March 2014
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lifeisyou ( - 11/03/2014)
Obviously, biotechnology will produce a new nature, radically different and hardly imaginable nowadays. Even so, will life always be life? Indeed, is the life that is in a cell  the same life that is in a monkey or a human being, dully or  wisely engineered? Why? Do not come and vanishes in the same way, an electromagnetic bond and a last breath?And beyond the marvellous specific benefits, what place will the whole of human beings and their traditions have in this new biotech nature? What place those aged societies that do not integrate fully within these biological products? Will biotechnology inevitably produce a new species, will humanity diverge again as the branch of a tree? Is  the current production-economic system demanding these changes, its driving-force? Or rather, is the goal to maintain an excellent health of the population? Is the latter credible in a world that is full of competition and enmity? Is it credible when there is hunger in a planet full of protein, where human beings are hungry meanwhile a weed of the field lives without problems? Along these lines, there is a peculiar book, a public preview in Just another suggestion for leisure, far away from dogmas or axioms
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