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Anti-Aging Biotechnologies Will Make Social Security and Medicare Obsolete

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July 30, 2018

Dear Reader,

Because transfer payments to the aged now make up the biggest part of the federal budget, I continually hear from people who fear anti-aging therapeutics will make things worse.

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Extending lives by another few years, they say, will only increase the amount of time that people are receiving transfer payments.

This isn't true. In fact, the opposite will happen.

Social Security and Medicare as we now know them will disappear because they won't be needed. I've covered this before, so I apologize for repeating myself.

Right now, biotechnologies that will dramatically extend human healthspans are moving toward the market. Some are already known to those who monitor biogerontology, but others have carefully avoided publicity. When these breakthrough therapies finally arrive, the economy will undergo the most dramatic transformation since the Industrial Revolution.

To understand the future economic impact of longer lifespans, we need at least some grasp of the effects longer lifespans have already had. 

The Biggest Change That Almost Nobody Noticed

The improvements in living standards and lifespans that came out of the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment were accompanied by falling birthrates. By the middle to the late 20th century, most developed nations' populations were no longer replacing themselves.

The following chart from the invaluable Our World in Data website provides a few visual examples.


As you can see, birthrates in the countries with data reaching back to the 1800s fell by at least two-thirds. At the same time, life expectancies basically doubled.

In retrospect, this is the biggest change in human history… so far. Ironically, almost nobody seemed to notice.

There were exceptions, of course. In the 1930s, a few demographers figured out what was going on and wrote about it in academic journals and texts. However, their influence was washed away by the overpopulation hysteria of the 1970s.

Nearly all our major intellectual institutions—including academia, the UN, and mainstream media—got it completely backwards, envisioning an inevitable overpopulation apocalypse and blaming it on high birthrates.

If first-world governments had only acknowledged that growing older populations depended on a shrinking tax base of younger people, we could have prepared. Instead, most of them borrowed money to fund programs for the aged, creating catastrophic levels of debt.

Today, international debt levels are nearly comparable to those created by World War II, but with no post-war baby boom to pay them off. As a result, the world is facing a financial and humanitarian catastrophe that could dwarf the Great Depression.

Why did this happen?

Obviously, political and psychological factors contributed to the situation—but I think the main reason is that it happened so slowly.

Most people simply didn’t notice as birthrates and life expectancies changed. A few demographers crunching the numbers knew, but their voices were lost in the blizzard of everchanging political and media panics. 


Since 1960, life expectancy in the United States has increased by about two months every year, but that wasn’t sufficient to penetrate public consciousness. We have not yet accepted that retirement models instituted when few workers lived to 70 are untenable today.

That will change, though. Discoveries made in just the last decade will enable much greater and much more rapid increases in lifespans.

I predict that within the next three to five years, we’ll see evidence that animal healthspans can be doubled at least. I’m also convinced several of the therapies that can do this will have a similar impact on humans.

If nothing changes on the legal front, it would mean that we are 10–15 years away from regulatory approval for human use of radical healthspan-extending therapies. However, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has implemented mechanisms for accelerating regenerative medicine that could reduce the delay to only a year or two. Other countries facing demographic catastrophes are also discussing major regulatory changes for anti-aging therapies.

Japanese approval wouldn’t allow use in the US, but health tourism would put these therapies within reach of wealthier Americans. In the case of radical regenerative medicine, that would be enough to force a real healthcare revolution.

The reason is that emerging regenerative therapies don’t just delay aging and death. I’ve recently written a lot about rapamycin, even though much more effective therapies are in the works. Rapamycin plays a critical role in this story because its use in animals shows that regenerative medicine leads to obvious rejuvenation. Aged mice treated with rapamycin regain hair, mobility, muscle mass, acuity, sexual vigor, and more.

When humans undergo even more effective therapies, their biomarkers will mimic those of younger people, but they’ll also appear, feel, and function as if they were younger. Public sentiment will shift dramatically when older celebrities visibly rejuvenate.

At that point, Millennials and other young people will truly understand just how unfair the current system is. Older people will also accept the responsibilities that come with much longer healthspans.

More importantly, the cost of healthcare will plummet because healthspans will be significantly extended. The diseases that enfeeble and kill will be delayed or prevented entirely. Social Security and Medicare, at least in their current forms, will be obsolete.

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Aug. 1, 8:04 a.m.

I am personally skeptical about the growth potential of Chromadex. First of all the stock has been trading since 2008 up and down between $1 and $6. So far there is no growth. And second, although Chromadex has an exclusive license for the manufacturing process, I believe that, in the case that this nutritional supplement will draw exceptional sales, that the large players in the Vitamine field will circumvent the Chromadex license with an alternative production process and with their sales power capture the majority of the market leaving little room for growth for Chromadex. In addition, while this Vitamine B3 precursor promises to have some benefits e.g. on blood pressure and vascular stiffness, it may not have other benefits for normally aging people making making it just another ordinary supplement like Vitamine C or D. One has to be careful about the hyb that is been created around aging related drugs and supplements. Some of it could turn out to be snake oil, in the worst case.

For those interested in more information I recommend the below articles.

1. Chronic nicotinamide ribosome supplementation is well-tolerated and elevates NAD+ in healthy middle-aged and older adults. (
2. NAD metabolism: Implications in aging and longevity (
3. The business of anti-aging science (
4. What is aging? PhD Comics Animation (video) (

July 31, 8:31 a.m.

I have been working in drug development for over 30 years in research as a biomedical scientist. I have also extensively studied biotech companies listed on the NASDAQ and the AMEX. I was especially interested in the characteristics that make a biotech successful versus a failure. My conclusion is that the growth of the biotech sector is basically driven by technology platforms that could be leveraged to target many diseases. The first one was the antibody technology. These companies are now mature. The next revolution, which is now entering the market with its first drugs is antisense/siRNA. Another one emerging is mRNA drugs. After that, it could be CRISPR. But CRISPR is still very immature and could take another 10 years for first market entries. In contrast to those breakthrough technologies that have driven and will drive biotech sector growth are a large number of one drug companies of which most have and will in the future end on the biotech graveyard.

Inspired by Patrick I had a look at the biotech companies involved in developing drugs and food additives to treat aging. As a whole, these companies strike me as one drug like companies. I can therefore only suggest to spread your money and invest in many of them because it is difficult to tell which one will make it.

Aging is a process that involves many different intracellular mechanisms. Many of them are currently under investigation in animal models. Some look very promising. But one has to be very careful extrapolating positive results from animals to humans. Even if one can extend the life of a mouse 10 fold that may not result in any meaningful gains in humans. Another problem in this field is that clinical trial will be long unless suitable biomarkers and clinical endpoints have been identified and accepted by FDA. There will not be a quick path to market unless it is a food additive.

Nevertheless, the aging field is an emerging field that promises high growth rates, but it is difficult to cherry pick. For that reason, I am not willing to invest in this field now.

July 30, 1:04 p.m.

You essay ignores the fact that there is a large enough contingent of voters who elected a president who believes Coal Mining is a career. Another group that believes current technology is evil, wont use e-banking, avoid GMO related products, etc. An last the group that believes vaccines are the cause of developmental issues. I hope you’re right but US resistance to change is a very powerful opponent of rational thinking.

July 30, 12:40 p.m.

OK, so Medicare as we know it becomes obsolete over time. Social Security obsolete?  Has there ever been a time when the need for income vanished?  I don’t think so. Are the current Boomers supposed to work until 85?  I may, but then I own my own business and it doesn’t necessitate heavy physical labor. I don’t think Boomers are up to it. The average retirement is still 64 for a guy, and 62 for a gal. I’ve got clients who want to retire at 60 after 35 years of hard labor!

Unused Medicare funds, if any, could go to reduce the national debt, but most likely they will be spent frivolously by our elected representatives.

The longer people live the more likely they are to outlive their money, healthy or not. That is the challenge. 

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