Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos has hired one of the world’s top boffins to help him deliver the secret to living hundreds of years illness-free.
GlaxoSmithKline icon Hal Barron, 59, will run Bezos’s new “anti-ageing” firm Altos Labs.
The company has a £2.2 billion war chest to find a revolutionary cell programming technique that could help humans avoid all diseases and live for huge amounts of time years.
The biotech firm has a crack team of scientists including a string of Nobel prize winners.
Barron, who will start his role in August, said: “I am deeply honoured to have been offered this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead such a unique company with a transformative mission to reverse disease.”
Altos, which will be based in Cambridge and California in the US, has lured a number of university professors with what has been dubbed “sports-star salaries”.
Its focus will be on “cellular programming” which is used to revive cells in a lab.
Some experts believe it could extend human life by wiping out diseases linked to age including cancer and Alzheimer’s.
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Altos’s backers include Bezos, 58, who is worth around $188 billion (£138m).
And Russian internet mogul Yuri Milner, 60, who is worth about $5 billion (£3.7m).
The firm’s co-founder and chief scientist Richard Klausner, 70, said: “We are building a company where many of the world’s best scientists can collaborate and develop their research with the speed, mission, and focus of private enterprise.”
Other Altos star recruits include Professor Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, a biologist who has predicted that human lifespans could be increased by at least 50 years.
Dr Shinya Yamanaka, winner of the 2012 Nobel prize, is an unpaid adviser.
He stunned the world in 2006 after finding that cells can be “reprogrammed” to re-enter a flexible, immature state.
This was possible using only four proteins, known as “Yamanaka factors”.
Belmonte later showed the proteins could be given to living mice to achieve signs of age reversal.
But the tech also caused tumours known as teratomas.
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