The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #82 - Sergey Young
Sergey Young is a longevity investor and visionary with a mission to extend healthy lifespans of at least one billion people. In order to do that, Sergey founded the $100M Longevity Vision Fund to accelerate life extension technological breakthroughs and to make longevity affordable and accessible to all.
Sergey is on the Board of Directors of the American Federation of Aging Research (AFAR) and is the Development Sponsor of Age Reversal XPRIZE global competition designed to cure aging. Sergey is also one of Top-100 Longevity Leaders and a Forbes Tech Council member
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6:35 - Sergey's background
10:50 - the human timeline of aging
12:10 - a shrinking thymus
13:15 - liver and thymus regeneration technology
14:35 - people who lack a thymus
16:40 - gene therapy and gene editing
19:00 - how will organs regrow?
21:30 - the possibility of rejection of regenerated organs
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26:10 - markers of aging
30:20 - reversing blindness
31:30 - Longevity Vision Fund's investments
32:20 - drug discovery process
33:55 - early cancer detection investment
34:45 - longevity investments
35:50 - Metformin effect on lifespan
37:25 - aging as a disease
38:40 - Berberine vs Metformin, and NMN
41:55 - mindset and psychological aging
44:35 - Placebo Effect
44:55 - LUMEN: The Lumen Breath Analyzer That Tells Your Body If You're Burning Carbs Or Fat For Energy! You Can Learn More In Melanie's Episodes With The Founder (The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #43 - Daniel Tal, The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #63 - Daniel Tal (Lumen)) And Get $25 Off A Lumen Device At MelanieAvalon.com/Lumen With The Code melanieavalon25
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46:30 - Is immortality an option?
48:50 - ethical implications of age reversal in application
51:15 - longer lifespan vs reproduction rates
56:15 - differences in Gender in anti-aging
57:15 - longevity for women
1:00:15 - personalized medicine
1:01:05 - role of aI avatars
1:04:10 - Digitizing Wisdom; Generational Avatars
1:07:45 - social media as a proxy to human avatars
1:09:55 - sergey's longevity practices
Melanie Avalon: Hi, friends, welcome back to the show. I am so incredibly excited about the conversation that I am about to have. It is about a topic that is near and dear to my heart, honestly, my personal passion, probably if I were to think about it, and that is the topic of anti-aging. What I find with anti-aging is that oftentimes it can be a bit of an esoteric or hypothetical question where you're just theorizing about what that might look like in the future. I'm really excited to have a very practical conversation today with a major figure in the anti-aging movement. That is Sergey Young, he is actually the founder of the $100 million Longevity Vision Fund. This is his personal passion project, and its goal is actually to accelerate life extension breakthroughs, and make them affordable and accessible to everyone. This is really, really exciting, because we're going to talk about literally what anti-aging might look like in the future. Sergey also has a book coming out called The Science and Technology of Growing Young, that should be released in 2021. There are just so many things that I think we're going to talk about. Sergey, thank you so much for being here.
Sergey Young: Hi, Melanie. Hi, everyone. I'm very excited to join you today.
Melanie Avalon: Yes. To start things off, would you like to tell listeners a little bit about your own personal story and what brought you to this passion? Was it always a passion? Was there a moment where you wanted anti-aging to be your thing? Your last name is Young. What's going on with all of that there?
Sergey Young: Yeah. That’s pretty much German. Well, where do I start? I think I was so jealous about my school friends. They all had a passion. It's probably before the age of 43 or 44, I'm 49 now, I was just building my career, taking care of my family, the most responsible child in the family earning money for the whole family, supporting my parents and brother. Then, something else happened just probably about five or six years ago. I went to the doctor and the question was, “What was the last time you've done all of these tests?” I said, “Well, it was many years ago. I was so busy with my career, with my family, I just assume I'm healthy.”
It's a typical story, I think 25% to 40% of Americans, depending on what statistics you're looking at, of high cholesterol level. My question was, what should I do? The suggestion was to take statins. I assume it's just one-month course, two-month course, or three-months course. My doctor told me, “Sergey, you don't get it. It's until the rest of your life.” Every day, in the next 40 or 50 years. At this time, I thought it's 40 or 50 years, “You're going to take statins.” I was really scared. My wife was pregnant with my third kid, I have four. I had baby daughter, Paulina. Her life was just about to begin, and I thought my life is just looking at the end of it. I asked the question, “What's the alternative?” They said, “Oh, come on, everyone knows that, but no one does it.” I said, “Come on, tell me.” Apparently, it was just changing your diet, taking certain supplements, like omega-3, and doing physical exercises.
I gave it a try, in the course of six months, I decreased my level of cholesterol by 25%, only by that means. Then, I thought, “Well, if I can do it without drugs, I can do a lot of different than important things for my health.” This is where the whole passion started. A few years later, I met Tony Robbins, Peter Diamandis. Peter is a good friend of mine, is a founder of XPRIZE Foundation, Singularity University, and many tech businesses. I just realized that my moonshot is to bring this new healthy and happy versions of ourselves to the world. I started to do it by sharing my practice with my friends. I was very popular and I double down on that. I established the fund. I do a lot of things in Longevity. Again, as you said, Melanie, my mission is to bring affordable and accessible version of health care and longevity to the world.
Melanie Avalon: I love that so much. My mom actually had a really similar story. Really recently, same thing, she went to the doctor, they said her cholesterol was pretty bad that she needed to be on statins, and she said, “Can I just try diet for a month?” Then she did, and the change in her levels was so significant that the doctor was like, “Wow. Okay, maybe you don't have to go on statins after all.” I think that that can be such an empowering moment, be it cholesterol, or whenever people experience some sort of health issue, and then when they realize that they can take things into their own hands, I find a lot of people have that epiphany moment where you just feel there is this power that you can have with diet and lifestyle.
Speaking to that though, we just talked about how you can take things into your own hands. All of that said, the human species, especially in regards to Longevity, do you think there are still predetermined points in a human's timeline that regardless of diet, regardless of lifestyle, that are still going to be a moment of aging? They often say, around, 25, is when you start aging. Does something happen when you're 25 that even with diet and lifestyle, it's just that's a marker of aging? What do you think about all of that?
Sergey Young: Sure. We can obviously talk about biology of aging, and I'm not the greatest specialist on that. I don't think before the age of 25, there is not a lot that you can do to damage your health, probably with the exception of extremely poor diet choices like just overdoing sugar, fast food, etc. Obviously, abusing things like drugs and going really in a bad way. From my personal experience, it's really from the age of 45, when you starting to see much more fundamental decline in your biomarkers, in your health, it's basically like a wake-up call when you start to realize that you need to do something. Then coming back to your question on age of 25, we have thymus. It's basically the organ which disappears or shrinks in size, probably after the age of 18, or 20. That's the secret of amazing energy, immune level, and ability of kids and younger generation to survive and to fight many, many diseases. That's very important organ. Unfortunately, is decreased in size, and obviously in efficiency, after age of 18 to 20. That's the biological explanation why we start to feel, well, a bit different, let me put it this way after the age of 20, or 25.
Moreover, if you think about how we're going to extend our life, and how are we going to extend not only lifespan, but health span of people on earth. There's number of technologists, which is actually working with this important organ, like thymus. We just invested in a company called LyGenesis. They work with liver organ regeneration. It's a cool company. They're using our own lymph nodes to regrow organs inside our bodies. You don't need to wait for donor liver or donor thymus anymore. You just really receive a nucleus of this in your lymph node and you regrow that. Funny enough, they started with liver because liver transplantation is probably around $800,000 surgery in US with the whole cycle. Their next target is thymus. There was the other trial, pretty small, but they were using growth hormones to influence thymus to regrow in the people who are in the age of 45 and above. It was combination of different interventions, not only thymus regeneration, but they managed to turn back the biological clocks of these people during this trial. That's just amazing feature of our body which can help us to survive for longer and hopefully add healthy and happy years to our life.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, wow. Okay, this is fascinating. Some questions about that. That's so interesting. I feel with all of the research I do on anti-aging, I don't normally see stuff about the thymus. This is the first time really seeing a focus on that. People who don't have a thymus, what happens there?
Sergey Young: Basically, what is happening is, again, I'm not MD. The reason there's not a lot of research on that that people thought it’s just the thing that it is necessary for during your early age from 0 to 20. That's basically it fulfills its mission. Well, let's also face it, the current version of healthcare is some people call it sick care, is focused on helping out the people who are already suffering. It's very reactive. Usually, it happens in the old age where thymus is not on the agenda. That's the thing. Just coming back to your overall question, we tend to think about anti-aging as a more like a lifestyle changes thing. That's what I call Horizon One of age reversal. This is what we can do now. Some people call it boring stuff, but they're extremely powerful I have five buckets in my Horizon One, what do I do now? Annual checkup, making sure you don't have bad habits like smoking passive longevity, like using your seatbelts, etc. Just don't die stupid. Third is a diet, fourth is the physical exercise, fifth is peace of mind, which is sleep meditation, act of kindness, etc. That covers Horizon One.
For many centuries and thousand years, that was the only option, which was available to us to extend our life. It's still very powerful option with all of these lifestyle changes. Unless, you really genetically unlucky, you can add 10, 15, 20 years to your life. You can extend it from 80 to 100, and add healthy and happy years to your life. But then what is happening, and we see it through the lenses of my investments in Longevity Vision Fund. Horizon Two technologies are currently in development. There was not the case even 10 or 20 years ago. This is where we invest. These technologies, I call them Horizon Two technologies, which are going to be available to us in the next 5, 10, 20 years. I'm talking about gene therapy and gene editing, I'm talking about longevity and appeal. We have few drug candidates, which as a positive side effect can extend our healthy and happy years. Some of the drugs are generic drugs. They've been on earth for the last 50 to 60 years, I'm talking about organ regeneration, this timeless regeneration of replaceable organs. This is what is happening in the labs, in the science labs, and in some of the startups that we're investing in, or stem cells.
These are the technologies which are not necessarily ready for us today, with certain few exceptions. In 10, 20 years of time, they will just create a revolution in life extension. They will be helpful, and will allow us to turn our biological clocks back. That's Horizon Two. Obviously, there's the other Horizon, which is 25, 50 years from now, when the whole definition of humans will change. I'm waiting for this with combination of excitement and fear, but we don't need to make these choices now. I'm talking about redefining the human body and mind. It is human brain and AI integration or human brain computer-integration interfaces. Like what Elon Musk does today, or human avatars. We're currently looking at three different human avatars companies, two in California and one in Japan, internet of body where our whole body will be full of sensors and nanorobots, with the only mission to sustain, improve, and extend the resource of our body and mind. There's a lot of exciting stuff which will help on, but it's really far away, this is really futuristic. We need to solve a lot of ethical issues before we embrace Horizon Three, like human body and mind 2.0.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, my goodness. I have so many questions. One more last quick question about the LyGenesis organ. Do they grow their organ for themselves in their own lymph node system or your growing for other people?
Sergey Young: Yeah. That's a good question. That's exciting because I think it's first half of this year, 2021, when they start trials of humans. They’ve already done trials in pigs, in dogs, in mice, and all 100% successful. They just got FDA approval, Food and Drug Administration approval to start human trials. What is happening? Remember, I told you the story about the problem with donor livers, you need to wait 6, 12, even more month for your donor liver to be available for you. It's super expensive operation surgery. What is happening? They take donor liver and they split it in 50 to 70 pieces. Each of these pieces is served as a nucleus inside the body of the recipient to regrow the liver in the course of four, six months. In the current model, it's just one donor and one recipient. There's this huge shortage of relationships because of the lack of donor livers and other organs. In LyGenesis world, one donor will be able to help 50 to 70 people. It's a simple-- I think it's called laparoscopic operations. They put this nucleus of donor liver inside lymph node. Then, in the course of, four, six months, you have plan B for your liver, which replace and support your unfunctional liver. This is what is happening,
Melanie Avalon: That is really, really incredible.
Sergey Young: I mean, it’s futuristic technology, and I just couldn't believe my eyes when I visited LyGenesis in Pittsburgh, but I think there's the other positive side of that. It's such a rewarding field. Whatever we invest in, we have a special check. It should pave the way to affordable and accessible version of that. Imagine if we will be able to decrease the ratio from one to one for organ’s transplantation to 1 to 50 what the implication of the cost and efficiency of the surgeries and these operations will be?
Melanie Avalon: Say, if a person lost their thymus, because of an autoimmune condition, would regrowing a thymus and their lymph node-- is there any possibility that their body would reject that or attack that?
Sergey Young: Again, I'm at the limit of my ability to cover this subject, but it's so exciting. So, immune rejection is a huge problem for organ transplantation. In fact, in some of the cases, as more than 50% of organs rejected, particularly rejected because of the fight, our immune system is starting against, like a foreign body inside our body. The beauty of LyGenesis technology is that LyGenesis technology helps to fight this autoimmune rejection effect. You still would need to have a bit of support of that, but it goes times easier and more successful in terms of the efficiency of organ transplantation or organ regeneration if you use LyGenesis technologies. Well, that's partly the important outcome of development of this technology. They’re working a lot with liver, and in terms of the thymus and kidneys in the other programs, they just in the beginning, so I'm probably just getting a little bit ahead of myself. I think this field will change in the next 5 to 10 years, and we'll be able to give a hand of help to so many people around the world.
Melanie Avalon: [unintelligible 17:15] a way the concept of your work is getting ahead of yourself, so you're allowed to do that.
Sergey Young: Yeah, I'm always been the most optimistic guy in the class and in different universities I attended. One, society would need to balance with a bit of pessimism and realism as well.
Melanie Avalon: Awesome. Well, I've got a lot of optimism, so there might not be much balancing in this conversation. You spoke about these advances and seeing changes in people's biological clock. Is that referring to like Horvath’s clock, or what markers are you looking at for aging?
Sergey Young: The current gold standard is Horvath’s clock. I think they do an amazing job. Last time I checked, if my memory serves me correctly, it was 2.7 years variance. It's a little bit high, but still, I think it's pretty precise in terms of our ability to measure our biological age. Moreover, I have a luxury of working with Dr. Horvath, and with Aubrey de Grey with Terry Grossman, Peter Diamandis in one team, to develop our age universal XPRIZE, which is pro bono technological competition to reverse aging, we're going to launch it this year, and we're going to have 300, 400 teams from 50 plus countries competing for age reversal, bringing the age reversal interventions, and we're going to use biological clock. Horvath’s clock is amazing. We know a lot of different teams all around the world who are looking at different biomarkers of aging. There is no agreement on what is the best, but what I do know that combination of that, give us enormous ability to transform the whole healthcare industry and our ability to influence our health.
With your permission, and I think is going to be interesting for the audience, just want to say that biological clock is a very simple concept. You just have this set of biomarkers and as they point out-- I'm like 49. If you look at my biological clocks, they point out at 40. There's nothing more important apart from our curiosity and our own health with that. If you think about age reversal trial 20 or 50 years ago, all you do, you find a statistically representative group of people who are eight years plus, and then you wait for 10, 15, 20 years, until last of them will die. That's your experiment in age reversal field 50 years ago. Then the question is what you can do in this world with 20 years’ feedback cycle? Nothing. Then invention of biological clocks is just amazing invention, because right now, it's going to take us 6 months, 12 months to measure the impact of any particular intervention on in our aging processes, on our biological age. What we've done in the last 10 probably years, we just squeezed feedback cycle of 20 years, into one, maximum two years. That's just amazing advancements, which helps a lot in drug development or development of different age reversal intervention. That's a fundamental shift in our ability to extend our lifespan and health span.
Melanie Avalon: Basically, you're getting, sounds like an almost an exponential increase and real-time feedback for how things are affecting aging.
Sergey Young: Exactly. Melanie, it's just the other funny fact, what I realized-- we invested in a different company, I think it's called Deep Longevity and they're working on a different type of biological clocks. One of the most precise way to predict your biological age is actually using artificial intelligence against your photos and videos of your face, and they're actually are looking at the wrinkles around your eyes.
Melanie Avalon: Is that accurate for aging, or no?
Sergey Young: Yeah, this is the most accurate way. They’re pretty much comparable with Horvath clock. They're still working with this algorithm. I just remember that this whole phrase that “The eyes are--
Melanie Avalon: -the window to the soul.”
Sergey Young: Yeah. There was something behind that we didn't realize and it's just amazing how combination of AI and human biology can move this thing forward.
Melanie Avalon: I remember when I interviewed David Sinclair, and he was talking about-- I think, in the eye was where they were first able to reverse--
Sergey Young: First of all, David Sinclair is just amazing man on so many fronts, from academic perspective, intrapreneurial perspective. He's a good friend of us. We did invest in one of his companies, Life Biosciences. What they've done, in one of their portfolio companies, in Life Biosciences, they were able to return 100% vision to fix this problem, I think it was in the mice, and then in usual circumstances, this biological organism would be blind for the rest of its life. Think about this loss of vision would be detrimental and lifelong for many species on this planet, and with the help of the science and technology, it's David and many other longevity pioneers and different labs around the world are helping us to fight human biology and negative changes in that.
Melanie Avalon: You are investing in that company with the AI and the wrinkles?
Sergey Young: Yeah, we've done 15 investments for the last two years, and we’re looking at 200 companies a year. It's just amazing door opener. We have an ability to look at and speak to 200 amazing teams of longevity scientists and entrepreneurs every year. That makes my life very interesting. We invested in 15 companies, we invested in this company who works on the aging clocks called Deep Longevity. We invested in David Sinclair company. It's a holding company, they have portfolio of different technologists, in different stages sciences, in different stages of development. We invested in LyGenesis, that’s organ regeneration company that we just discussed with you. We do invest a lot in AI-enabled drug discovery, because drug discovery process, I don't know if you know, it's $2.5 billion, and it's 12 years’ time. 1 out of 5000 candidate compounds actually made it to CVS or Walgreens in 12 years. That's just very capital-intensive process, which is an obstacle for us to create effective and efficient version of healthcare and medicine.
We invested in two companies, which use artificial intelligence to suggest you particular molecules, which will be more successful to fight this particular disease. Rather than going through libraries or trials, they squeeze the first two or three years of target candidate selection for drug development into two or three months. It's company called Insilico Medicine, it's company called [unintelligible [00:25:29] Health, many other things, and we do invest a lot in gene writing, gene-editing technologies, as well. Our ability to change our genes would be super helpful to help people with genetic diseases. Some people call it it's part of rare diseases, this is how they call it. If you combine only people on earth, who suffer from so-called rare diseases is 400 million people. That's a lot. We are working on that as well. It's like a separate part of our portfolio, which works on early cancer diagnostic because it's super important. If you detect cancer early on, your chances to recover are from 93% to 100%, rather than if you go to a stage four cancer. It's much, much cheaper to treat these patients and they all or majority-- well, 93% to 100% of them, depending on the cancer type and stage survive.
Finally, we invest quite a bit in affordable and accessible version of medical devices, like AI-based digital stethoscope, which helps human doctors to identify a lot of risk or affordable ultrasound devices, which costs 50 times less than typical ultrasound bulky device that you see in your hospital next door.
Melanie Avalon: With all of this investment that you're doing, and you just spoke about the obstacles that you can face with drug approvals and clinical trials, do you find that the different companies in order to be accepted or move forward, their focus needs to be on addressing a certain disease compared to-- can you invest in technologies that are just about life extension? Or, is that less likely?
Sergey Young: No, you're not. Well, that's unfortunate, but optimistic group of people, we're going to be okay with that. The way today regulation works, you need to have a disease to fight that. That's obviously the outcome of our reactive and pretty much symptomatic healthcare system that we have now. I have no complaints. The way you do longevity and age reversal technologies and interventions development right now, you look at anti-aging as a positive side effect of particular drug need to develop. For example, well, there's a drug called metformin, I'm pretty sure your audience know about this one. Well, that's a generic drug. It's exists probably for the last 60 to 70 years on earth. It's an antidiabetic drug. The positive side effect of Metformin, and this is going to be tested in a huge trial in US, is hopefully extending our lifespan by two, three or four years. Obviously, it still needs to be tested. I don't recommend going to the pharmacy and trying to lobby them to sell you Metformin. Well, you can consult with your doctor. If you have any, like diabetes histories, or you above 60, I'm pretty sure in 5, 10 years’ time, if trial is successful, we're going to be having this longevity drug, but no one developed this as an age reversal drug. It was all about helping people to fight diabetes, and then longevity aspect of that came or will come as a side effect of it. That's the reality of today, regulatory context.
Obviously, we fighting hard for aging to become like a risk factor, or approved disease in the US and many other geographies. This will help us to bring more and more capital to fight the origin of so many diseases, which is aging process. I'm very hopeful for that and we see some movements in this regard, both in the US and in some other countries around the world.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, I was just about to say in David Sinclair's book Lifespan, his thesis, is that aging is a disease, so that would probably be very practical for moving forward more with the investment in the companies and how it's received. Do you take Metformin, personally?
Sergey Young: No, I don't. I'm 49 and I'm relatively healthy. I have a very healthy lifestyle. I'm planning to live to 200 years. Metformin is going to be later on. I have three degrees. My first degree is chemical engineering. That's why I was very-- I put a challenge against statins, and that's why I think-- this is a chemical substance, and it needs to be tested. I was just waiting for the trial outcome, which will hopefully come in the next five to seven years. I'm cool with that. I might consider that when I will turn 60. Obviously, our collective knowledge of what metformin does for your longevity will be much different by this time. In a way, I'm trying not to do unnecessary experiments with my mind and body, though obviously, I have very experimental nature.
Melanie Avalon: I started taking, not metformin, but I was doing a lot of research on berberine. There's a lot of trials comparing it to metformin. It was pretty impressive. I've been wearing a CGM. I've found it really affects my fasting blood sugars pretty significantly.
Sergey Young: Oh, really?
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I've been really fascinated by it. I've been asking around to my audience, and a lot of people have been experimenting with it.
Sergey Young: Yeah, I should try this. I'm big fan of NMN, and David Sinclair probably told you about this one. Well, this is one of the few supplements when you start to take it in a month or two, people just see the visual difference in how you look, how you behave, how you radiate. It's obviously, I'm like taking what 30 to 40 different supplements a day, so I'm not the best guy to test NMN. That's why I switched from the other energy booster from Elysium Basis or Tru Niagen, which is probably the same supplement. Yeah, from NR to NMN. I even heard a lot about NMN, that’s Buck Institute of aging research in Novato, California, from Eric Verdin, head of this institute. They have 23 or 25 academic programs. It’s just amazing academic institution. I think 25 academic programs from unified theory of aging, to nutrition and supplements. That is just amazing. I can just live in this place and speak to these people forever. I'm experimenting with that. I'm going to take your advice and experiment with berberine as well.
Melanie Avalon: I currently take NMN and NR. I've been taking the Elysium Basis with food. Then I've been taking NMN Quicksilver because it has TMG with it. I've been taking that while fasting. I had surgery recently. Afterwards, I just felt really, really wrecked. I couldn't do anything because I wasn't allowed to exercise. I couldn't do sauna. I couldn't do all these things. I was like, “What can I do?” I started high dosing, like high, high dosing NR and NMN. It could have been in my head, once I started doing that, I started feeling significantly better. It was pretty shocking.
Sergey Young: Yeah, I would not combine NR and NMN. I think NMN does it all, I think it's much more effective energy booster. Again, I'll just refer to more knowledgeable people on this regard. I do a lot of fasting as well. I actually fast 36 hours every week, Monday evening to Wednesday morning. It's like the happiest day for me, which is Tuesday. Apart from that, you have a lot of disagreement in academic field about what actually extends aging, and there's only one agreement on caloric restriction. I actually take fasting as a way to reduce my calories. Obviously, being very heavily plant-based, I'm not religious about meat or fish, at least today in terms of my views, but I'm heavily plant based because the calorie density of plants and vegetables are so low, you can eat basically unlimited amount of that and still be healthy, and happy.
You touched on a very interesting point, Melanie, which is the effect of the mindset on our aging. I have only one academic article written and it is actually about your psychological age. If you think consistently that you’re younger than your calendar age, you becoming younger, and your aging slows down. I've done this a lot. A few years ago, I decided I'm going to live to 200 years. I know it's completely irresponsible thought, given where we are today in with maximum-- where the oldest person on earth died at the age of 122, but this changed a lot for me. At the age of 49, I have three fourth of my life ahead of me. I tend to think so I'm going to be leaving 200 in a body of 25 years old. I must say that it's been a great and just amazing turnaround in terms of how I feel and how I look and the overall energy level and how do I see the world. I'm great believer in a psychological aging and there's been studies which says that if you think you're younger, you're actually becoming a little bit younger in comparison to your calendar age. If you think you're older, your mortality risks are actually higher or much higher than the rest of population.
Melanie Avalon: What was the setup of that study? Did they tell people to think that they were younger?
Sergey Young: I don't remember what's the sample size. I can send you this academic paper, but they just ask people number of simple questions, like, basically how old are you calendar-wise? When you think about yourself, what do you think is your age? The people who consistently responded that they feel 5 or 10 years younger, they actually had a different set of biomarkers, they were younger on the biological clock front.
Melanie Avalon: I love that. Okay, I want to start meditating now on some sort of mantra that's like, “I am young.” That's incredible.
Sergey Young: Yes, you should be. This is what I'm doing with my-- I'm going to live 200 years in the age of 25 years old. It's probably an anecdote, but I would not be surprised if it has very good evidence. One of the biggest obstacles to some of the pharmaceutical studies, and one of the biggest competitors is placebo. Placebo effect, sometimes placebo has exactly the same effects as most some of the pharmaceutical substances in studies. Positive. That's why I'm big fan of supplements. Some people tell me, “Well, Sergey, they're not FDA regulated. There's no scientific studies to prove effect of this, this, and this.” If it works for 30%, or 40%, because of placebo effect, I'm all for it.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. The placebo effect is so incredibly powerful. What do you think with your Horizons is a realistic lifespan, is immortality even an option at some point?
Sergey Young: I don't really like the immortality concept, because we just did a documentary called Tomorrow Unlocked on immortality. What I say there is, I don't like immortality, because I do think if you take out that from the human cycle, we're not going to be humans. But it’s becoming deeply philosophical, and real individual, so I don't want to build on that. I think I am interested, and my passion is in longevity for the planet. In a way, I am indifferent to how many years on Earth I will spend. When you talk about statistics, when you talk about 7 billion people we have on the planet today, to move the average, it's going to be a lot of years, realistically-- well, let's use my example. I'm 49, my life expectancy, on average should be probably around 80-85. With all the lifestyle changes and all this passion that I have, I can probably leave 100 and 105. Then, so let's think about what will happen in the next 50 years. Gene editing going to be available, longevity going to be available, organ replacement going to be available, and even human avatars and human brain integration is going to be available.
In 20 years from now, we will be living in completely different world in terms of our opportunities, and choices to extend our lifespan. It's almost like us talking back in year 2000. Would be believe in smartphones and Zoom of this world, then artificial intelligence, or our ability to sequence genome? The first genome sequencing project took six years and $3 billion. Right now, you can sequence genome for $200. That's just amazing. In a way, I really don't know what will happen in 20 years from now, but I do know that it's going to be beyond our wildest dreams and aspirations.
Melanie Avalon: Do you think it will matter, especially since it sounds like we might be on the cusp of very huge developments in this whole anti-aging, longevity technology, say there's some insane development that is able to really radically reverse somebody's biological clock. Do you think a person will have to be a certain age for that to take effect? Do you think there'll be developments where a person could be almost near death, but will have a development to radically reverse their biological clock? Or, do you think we'll have to be young enough for those to work?
Sergey Young: There's two aspects of that. One is ethical. I will address that in a second. Well, the other aspect is, I think what we learned for the last few decades is the cost of almost every invention decreased exponentially in just a few years. It's just becoming affordable and accessible to almost everyone. Well, think about cell phones. Well, 20-25 years ago, it was like $10,000 plus, there was only for each. Right now, you take a high-speed train from Hong Kong, 15 minutes you in Shenzhen, and you can buy a smartphone for $9. We actually in XPRIZE Foundation, we've done Global Learning XPRIZE sponsored by Elon Musk, by the way, with his $15 million. When we just deal with like iPads or a different version or different vendor, who is producing the tablets, tablets which cost $30 with the application installed, which helps African kids to learn and study Swahili and English with zero adult help in 12 months. It's like $30. 10-15 years ago, it would be only for super rich. In a way, I do think whatever will be invented, it's going to be heavily regulated. We're talking about very complex thing like human biology. It’s not going to be one silver bullet, which will help us to solve aging problem, because of the exponential decrease of the cost of every treatment or every technology that we're developing, I actually think that we're going to be fine. If we come up with something really good, we'll be able to help everyone on this planet.
Melanie Avalon: This is I know a philosophical question about the immortality, which might not even be practical. One of the things I was thinking about was, we often see a relationship between the drive to reproduce an aging. There's this whole theory that anti-aging actions are often linked to our reproductive drive. I wonder if we were immortal, how that would affect our biological urge to reproduce?
Sergey Young: Well, I do think we have an answer to that. Well, it was not around immortality. The unfortunate reality with us becoming more resourceful, I'm talking about the overall increase in GDP per capita, and us living longer, I'm talking about increase of the average lifespan in developed countries from probably 40 or 50 years in somewhere around 1945 to 75, 85 years today, our reproduction rates decreased significantly. Moreover, there was a great study last year, saying that, by year 2050-- with current reproduction rates and decrease of that, by year 2050, we’ll reach the maximum population of people on earth around 10 billion, and then it's going to decline. China is what 1.4 billion citizens today? By the year 2100, they're going to be somewhere around 800 million people. It's happening almost everywhere, probably with the exception of huge number of African countries and Latin America as well.
I say unfortunate as a father of four kids, the unfortunate outcome of us becoming wealthier, more resourceful, living longer is we have so many alternatives for our time, rather than reproducing ourselves and taking care of kids. That's why a lot of people make other choices. Obviously, I have a lot of respect to that. That's why in almost every developed country that you see, our reproduction rates are below the figure, I think it's 2.1 or 2.2 per family, which is required for population to grow.
Melanie Avalon: Wow, that's really fascinating. I was not aware of that, that possibly that population will reach a cap, and then decline.
Sergey Young: Well, that's what are we working on longevity. We're going to change this whole thing. But then the question is are we going to be on this planet? Is it going to be the only choice in 100 years from now? I'm looking at what is happening in the world. If Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, and all other space entrepreneurs, so I'm pretty sure in 100 years from now we're going to have more choices rather than our beautiful blue planet.
Melanie Avalon: Would you like to go to another planet?
Sergey Young: Yeah, my plan is to go to Mars. The plan is I lived 200 years. If I lived 200 years, so obviously, I'm going to leave until the point when this technology going to be available. With current life expectancy of what, 85 years, I couldn't really go to my kids and family say, “Guys, I need two and half years. I'm going to be going to Mars, but I'm going to be back in three years.” I wouldn't survive in my family. If this is 200 years, I can easily say, “Guys, yeah, I'm taking a break. I'll see you in two and a half years from now. Just go going to Mars and back, don't worry.” That's the plan. Obviously, it's how serious and how aspirational and funny, but who knows?
Melanie Avalon: If we had the ability to travel at the speed of light, and you could do that, and then time travel and come back, and it would be way in the future, would you want to do that as well? I'm just wondering.
Sergey Young: Well, I never had this option. I haven't thought about this one. That’s a great question. Look, I'm a product of my time. In a way, well, yeah, this is where I'm the most comfortable, this is where I can bring enormous value to my community, to my family, to our citizens on the planet. Would I do it out of curiosity? Probably yes. Do I want to live there? Probably not. It's a little bit traveling to Japan, which is very futuristic, extremely different culturally. It's a lot of fun to spend a week or two. To live there, it's just completely different exercise. You will need to start to rewrite your cultural, societal family DNA from scratch. I'm not saying is bad, or this is good thing. It just requires starting from square one. I don't want to do it.
Melanie Avalon: Okay. Thank you for entertaining my question. Also, we were talking about the reproduction. All of the companies that you invest in and the work that you're seeing, does it often account for the differences in men and women in the studies? When it comes to anti-aging, do you see a lot of differences between how men and women with all the testing and everything?
Sergey Young: That's a great question. I must admit, it was only like a year or a year and a half ago, I was speaking to a group of amazing female scientist. I've just discovered that there's just a lot of things in the science and the trials, based on or focused on white males. I was really shocked by that. I don't have huge statistics to support that. Even if you look at health and longevity books more on the health side, almost male speaking to male. I think it's unfair. In my story, year and a half ago, I quickly discovered that there's a whole[?] and pretty much different world, which I call longevity for women, which exists, and I need to take care of that as well. My actually plan after my-- Well, it's not the first book, my second book will see the light on August 10th, this year, it's called as you said, The Science and Technology of Growing Young. I'm actually starting to work on the book which covers female, women view of longevity and health. It's really amazing world and it's very different how we, the male part of population see the issue so and challenge of health and longevity. If you speak to women, their view on health and longevity is very different.
The whole reproductive aspect is completely different, or, the dynamic of aging. Man has a gradual decline of his resources, probably after age of 40 or 45, on average, and then for women, that's menopause. It's just huge structural, fundamental, one-time dramatic change. Think about the women, they're making 80% of the health-related decisions for the whole family. This whole sense of responsibility for other people and making choices which will affect the health of the family, community, society is in DNA, the mindset of the women, and this whole hormonal aspect. Look, again, when I heard this from while talking with these ladies, I was like, “Oh my God,” I'm like, “In the age of 47?” I've just managed to open this whole exciting and interesting world for me, such a shame.
Melanie Avalon: I am thrilled to know that you are aware of all of this as well because one of the most shocking things I think I ever read was-- it was also in David's book Lifespan. I'll actually read it because I have the quote. He said that, “Ever since female mice have been regularly included in lifespan experiments, thanks largely to NIH stipulations, large gender differences in the effects of longevity genes and molecules have been seen. Treatments that work through insulin or mTOR signaling typically favor females, whereas chemical therapies typically favor males. No one really knows why.” I remember when I read that, I was like, “That's huge,” because we're doing so much study on these genes. It may turn out that gender is playing a huge role in it.
Sergey Young: Yeah, exactly. On the positive side, what I can say, look, with our enormous ability to do genome sequencing, use of different technologies, including artificial intelligence, I think we'll just leapfrog to personalized medicine, when it's not about splitting the world into male and female or 50 different shades of gender. But it's just personalized for you and me, and tailor to our particular DNA setup, and all the rest, which is in our body. There's a hope that-- the way technology developed itself, right now, we might actually solve this problem by not focusing on only male-female difference, but to account for the whole diversity of this world, and human society and our individual choices.
Melanie Avalon: I'm dying to hear a little bit more. You've mentioned it a lot throughout this conversation, and that is the potential role of AI, avatars. I'm just dying to know what that practically looks like. Because, like I said at the beginning of opening the show, it's often a very hypothetical esoteric conversation. It doesn't seem real. In a real sense, what does that look like, avatars, AI?
Sergey Young: There's two questions here, one on the AI, which is, it's already part of our life. We’ve already made these choices. What I wanted to say people always ask me like, “Would AI replace doctors?” I always say, it's unfortunate nature of our thinking. We are taking pretty binary views on everything. Like, it's AI versus human beings. What about AI plus human beings? As someone said, quoting this in my book, saying, like, “AI will not replace radiologists,” because AI has enormous ability to go through MRI and scans and detect early-stage cancer. AI will not replace radiologists, but radiologists with AI will replace radiologists without AI. We tend to be very confronting, looking at the new stuff. I actually think the future is combination of human intelligence and artificial intelligence. Not either or, but that's like, philosophical comment on AI.
Human avatars. A few years ago, when we were looking at-- trying to look at this place, I had a strong view that the future of human avatars is a just a little bit like we've seen in-- is it James Cameron movie, in Avatar movie. You have a robotic avatar, and you basically have a robot and then you have a new opportunity to both send this robot to Mars, and then you still here on Earth, and then you just enjoy Mars through what this robot sees, feels, smells, etc. That's called robotic avatar. I was a big fan of that.
What I learned in the last, probably couple of years, that with the level of development and decreasing cost of virtual world and digital technologies-- it's just provocative thought. I don't know whether it's happening or not. I started to believe that creating the digital versions of ourselves is much cheaper, and actually much closer point of time, in terms of technological development and availability, rather than creating robotic versions of ourselves. That's counterintuitive for me. I still couldn't believe in that. Frankly, speaking, creating the artificial intelligence version of ourselves in a digital world is super cheap. I think in 25 or 50 years from now, we might discover that this is the way forward for us.
I do know quite a lot of famous US public people who just right now trying to digitize themselves, to split their wisdom, and their desire to share their wisdom, from enormous time demand that they get in terms of their speaking, coaching, changing the world. Having said that, however shocking it sounds, I think that if you think about certain implication or application of that, it's actually pretty useful and pretty cool.
My case, one of my grandfathers has been super instrumental in terms of sharing his wisdom with me when I was really young. I wouldn't mind to speak to the digital version of him for an hour every month. Think about the cross-generational wisdom transfer. Generation after generation, at least in our family, we're repeating the same mistakes. My kids will have an opportunity to learn from my grandfather or mother. I know it's niche, but this is just a show that we shouldn't shock ourselves with CNN type of scary news that digital version of us going to dominate the world, but think about some useful applications of that.
Melanie Avalon: This is sort of like the Matrix?
Sergey Young: Yeah. Look, we’re all stereotyping here. Recognizing the myth, stereotype, yeah, that's might be the case. I was leaning toward something different. My version of the future world is that we live in a world like today, but there's certain very niche application of human avatars, which can be super helpful for us to extend life or to support some cross-generational wisdom transfer.
Melanie Avalon: Not like the whole world is a digital creation, but rather, we're in the world, but then we can possibly engage in these digital avatars for different experiences.
Sergey Young: That's unfortunate, I couldn't remember what was the name of the South Korean mother, you should watch it on YouTube. I'm pretty sure if you google that, this clip will appear. Last time I checked, it was 20 million views on this clip. What has happened, this South Korean mother, she had a beautiful baby girl, and she died at the age of five. She hired a digital avatar/virtual reality company. Then, on the basis of her photos, videos, and I think they've done something while she was alive, they created a digital copy of her. Then, I think it was on South Korean TV, like two years ago, I'm using this example in my August book, in Science and Technology of Growing Young. They had eight minutes meeting in the virtual world, where mother’s loved daughter, who died two or three years ago. A father of four, I stopped watching after the first minute, because I couldn't help, I was just crying. In the end of the day, think about some scenarios in lives, where human avatars are not going to be mass product, but would help some people to live longer, to be happier and to make less mistakes and do more good things on this planet.
Melanie Avalon: In a way with social media, we engage in a digital world, we watch the digital world and put forth a version of ourselves. We're not literally immersed in the world of it. What are your thoughts on social media and how it has affected us?
Sergey Young: Yeah, I think it's a proxy to where we going. I know, a lot of people, if you compare the social media version of them with the real version of them, it's almost two completely different. It sounds like a negative comment, because of that, I have been able to create this Sergey young guy. My full-time job, I'm managing huge investment funds, it's multi-billion-dollar assets, all around the world. Without the social media, like video conferencing, I would be just living in London going to my office Monday to Friday and managing, what? Food retail, transportation, logistics, ports, and containers, all these investments, but because of that, because of the social media, after 5 PM, I can be at Longevity Visionary, I can establish my own fund to support longevity technologists, for them to become affordable and accessible. We can talk, we can share our mission, so we can engage and inspire more and more people. That's the positive side of that.
Melanie Avalon: That’s so true. I hadn't really thought about that before. It's like we have created these avatars of ourselves in a way that have a mission or spreading a purpose and content and information that goes so much far beyond what we could do in, like you said, in our day to day life. That's really, really cool.
Sergey Young: Yeah. With every technology, it depends how you use it. If you have good intentions, it's a positive thing. If you have bad intention, it's a negative thing. It comes down to our ethics and our design, and why do we think we were born on this one planet.
Melanie Avalon: Speaking of the day to day life, because I ask for questions for you from listeners, and one of the things they really wanted to know was, what do you do in your day to day life as far as practical, longevity supporting practices? Do you use biohacking devices? Do you use red light or sauna? What are your favorite things?
Sergey Young: Yeah. Every time I'm in Santa Monica, and I have an office there, and I go to Upgrade Labs from Dave Asprey and they love me. I'm just going there, booking four hours, and trying a lot of new different things. I'll answer this question, but before I do that, this one thing I do believe in, is that I don't think that we need any technology to make healthy and happy choices today. Take a look at meditation. I'm using Muse 2 to meditate. I do think they have enormous way of giving me feedback on how do I meditate, with this bird singing, with sounds of nature. If you think about this, there's very few ways to give you feedback when you meditate. You don't want someone to talk to you or touch you or saying like, “Well done, Sergey. Continue meditating another 10 minutes.” Muse 2 is amazing. In the end of the day, I don't need Muse 2 to meditate. I just need to calm space and know how to do this well.
I have this relationship with gadgets where I love them. I do realize that it's always free of charge and gadgetry option to reproducing, recreating the same in my life. What I do gadget wise, I'm big fan of Oura ring or Apple Watch, or whatever the fitness bracelet choice you have, I do believe that, what we call variables is already your personalized healthcare device. I'm actually waiting when guys like FitBit, Apple Watch, Garmin, will add glucose monitor there and blood pressure monitor, and it's going to be 95% of the data that we need to measure everyday-- Well, it's not every day, like every second basis, on a continuing basis. That's amazing. This is what I do.
Overall my Horizon One, which is what you can do today, longevity buckets. One is doing annual checkup. It's just super important. I do my one in Human Longevity Center, Health Nucleus in San Diego, California. Second is just not to die stupid. I'm not smoking, I always wear seatbelts. I have zero alcohol tolerance policies, where even if I'm in the states or in the countries where you can drink a glass of wine, and still be a driver, so I don't do that. Diet is a huge part of it. Remember my earlier point that there's a lot of disagreements but one agreement that calories restriction is good for your life extension. Actually I was so tired to wait for my bigger book to be published, finally, after three years is going to be published in August. I created the smaller book, it's available on Amazon it's called 10 Simple Principles of the Healthy Diet, it's 100 pages book, very synthesize than simple version of what you can do on a diet bucket. There's bucket three. Then four is physical activity.
I do a lot of walking. I do at least 10,000 steps a day. Then, I do stretching, yoga, etc. Then, peace of mind, I'm big fan of healthy sleep. My rule is eight hours in the bed, seven hours sleeping time. I measure my sleep cycles with Oura ring, then via meditation, as I said, like Muse 2 that I'm using. Then the rest is immaterial stuff, like, sense of purpose, act of kindness, gratefulness, all these things. I'm not heavily focused on gadgets. I like to try them and I'm a big fan of some of them.
Then final comment on gadget. I've been a little bit unfair responding to this question from my generation point of view, because if you look at the younger generation, they have this gadget-focused view of the world. I'm pretty sure for someone who is 20 or 25 today, adopting the healthier practices through gadgets is just really natural way to make this positive change in their lives. To be fair, some of the people are much more technological than I am, and adopting the gadgets and using them might be a good way for them, a good avenue for them to extend their life through changing their habits.
Melanie Avalon: I'm similar to you, in my ideal world, I wouldn't have any gadgets, I don't think, because my natural lifestyle would just do all the things, but I like seeing all of the “biohacking gadgets” as tools to just gain an awareness about how things are affecting me and just help catalyze anything that I am doing towards the ideal state for my diet and lifestyle to support my health. I love my Oura ring. It's really great. Well, this has been absolutely amazing. I love what you said about how you're impatient about the release of your book, so you wrote that abbreviated form of it. I read it, it was really, really great. I'll put a link in the show notes to that for listeners. This is such a random tangent question, but I'm just dying to know your thoughts on it. It doesn't really relate to anything we just talked about. Do you have thoughts on daily aspirin intake?
Sergey Young: Again, no, I'm not a medical doctor, so I couldn't really give any medical advice. We all pretty special in this regard. I actually think that after age 60 or 65, it's part of pretty common routine to take daily aspirin. What it does, I think our risk of cardiovascular disease increases exponentially after probably 60might be earlier than that. That's just a good prevention tool for facing the heart problems. In a way, it's old-style prevention tool, prevention drug for heart disease. In the Horizon One paradigm, in the world we live in today, I would not be surprised if you see a doctor after the age of 60, he or she will tell, “Melanie, you're 60 now, you should take this because there's statistical evidence from a lot of trials that daily intake of aspirin is super helpful in managing your heart disease risk.” That's the answer from Horizon One.
My answer from Horizon Two from 10, 20 years from now, with level of wearables, sensors, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence measuring there, I think we'll be able to predict and influence prevention of heart disease risk, much better with the use of technology. It's not using one drug for the whole population, because statistically, it works for what 50% or 60% of that. It’s going to be your own situation, your own heart performance, your own data, and artificial intelligence telling you where's the heart disease risk and what exactly you need to do in a personalized way to manage that.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, gotcha. Thank you. Yeah, the reason I'm just wondering, I asked so many people about it. A lot of what I talked about is mostly diet and lifestyle based, but really two drugs, I mean, aspirin, I guess it is a drug. Two drugs, I'm really haunted by are aspirin and metformin, just the cost benefit of possibly taking them daily.
Sergey Young: Yeah. It's very difficult for me. Anyway, I'm a little bit like you and many of your people from your audience, I’m pretty immature in this space and area of where you need the medical doctor degree. We should trust the medicine-- with regarding medicine, I always ask for second or third opinion in particularly important cases. Usually, I'm always joking, you’re changing the medical professionals, the doctors you seeking advice from, until you hear exactly what you wanted to hear.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. That's funny.
Sergey Young: Yeah, this is what I do.
Melanie Avalon: I love it. Well, honestly, this has been one of the most fascinating conversations I think I've ever had, possibly in my life. Thank you so much. The last question that I always ask every single guest on this podcast, and it ties into something we were talking about earlier, which is the huge importance of mindset surrounding everything. What is something that you're grateful for?
Sergey Young: My kids, they give me the reason to live longer.
Melanie Avalon: Oh, I love that. That's amazing.
Sergey Young: Yeah. For a father of four kids, obviously you need to not only to love the process, but also enjoy the kids-rich environment to go to this level of reproduction aspiration. That's my case. Thanks, Melanie. It's been amazing. I actually feel we can continue to talk for hours and for ages actually on all these topics. I'm very thankful to you and your audience. If you want to receive updates on what we're doing in a longevity field, just go to sergeyyoung.com and sign up for my newsletters, to monthly newsletters and hope you're going to enjoy it.
Melanie Avalon: Perfect. Well, for listeners, I will put links to all of that in the show notes. Sergey, I love to bring you back when you release your book to talk about that if you'd like to.
Sergey Young: Yeah, we're going to be talking more about Horizon Two, and so many things happening in this world. Yeah, would love to.
Melanie Avalon: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, and enjoy the rest of your day.
Sergey Young: Thank you and stay healthy and happy, please.
Melanie Avalon: Thank you. You, too. Thank you. Bye.