The world's richest billionaires could soon use their fortunes to lengthen their lives and live far longer than any human has before.
Scientists reckon that impressive advances in anti-aging research could mean that humans will be able to live for much longer than they do now in the future – but the treatments will come at a price most won't be able to afford.
This means the uber-wealthy, such as Tesla tycoon Elon Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Google co-founders and presidents Larry Page and Sergey Brin, could be the first to get their hands on the latest ground-breaking treatments.
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Bioethicist and Utrecht University professor Christopher Wareham said these scientific advances could "exacerbate all the kinds of existing inequalities" that we already have.
"Suppose, for example, we had a kind of vaccine for the pandemic of age," Wareham told The Times.
"This is going to potentially exacerbate all the kinds of existing inequalities that we have."
And Wareham added that this inequality could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as billionaires would then have even more time to grow their wealth.
"The longer you're around, the more your wealth compounds," the ethics of aging researcher said.
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"The wealthier you are, the more political influence you have."
And Wareham's fear could be realised soon – wealthy individuals including Bill Gates, 67, Sir Richard Branson, 67, and the former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 80, have all put their money into companies researching how to lengthen the human lifespan in recent years, MailOnline reported.
While anti-aging progress was initially slow, scientists have had a series of recent breakthroughs that have seen them identify biological and environmental factors that can cause us to age, including damage to our DNA over time and proteins that don't behave as they should in our bodies.
Back in April 2022, scientists figured out a way to reverse some of the physical signs of aging and "reprogrammed" the skin in a group of people aged 38 to 53, with some of them reportedly looking up to 30 years younger.
The technique doesn't damage the cells, and researchers said they were even able to restore some of the functions that had been lost in older cells.
Scientists have also recently discovered that certain cells seem to drive the aging process and can cause diseases that become more common as we age, such as cancer.
Studies performed on animals have shown that the removal of these cells could slow this process down, with some believing that it could even reverse it.
More than two dozen companies are currently researching ways to remove these cells in humans – with one of them, Unity Biotechnology, receiving hefty financial support from billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Nir Barzilai – the director of the Institute for Aging Research at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine – believes humans may be able to undergo the treatment by the end of this year.
"We are done with hope and promise. We are at the point between having promise and realising it," he told the Financial Times.
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