Envisioning Universal Longevity: A Shared Journey

Sergey Jakimov of LongeVC emphasizes the importance of demystifying longevity, making it understandable, and ensuring its readiness for practical applications in healthcare.

1/6/20244 min read

LongeVC, a Switzerland-based venture capital company, is dedicated to supporting early-stage biotech and longevity-focused founders and startups. Sergey Jakimov, its founding partner and entrepreneur, takes a serious approach to his responsibility in the sector. While actively contributing to shaping the future of longevity biotech, Jakimov also places significant emphasis on carefully considering the ethical implications associated with biotech and longevity-focused initiatives.

While maintaining a belief in human uniqueness, individuality, and purpose, the current article adopts a perspective viewing individuals as functional units within society. This intentional approach aims to explore broader societal implications.

Examining the incorporation of longevity into healthcare systems reveals notable hurdles. Despite its potential and increasing acknowledgment in individual health practices, longevity faces a challenging landscape within the structured and protocol-driven setting of mainstream healthcare. Significant challenges include elevated costs, limited awareness, and a deficiency in specific longevity treatments and physician training. This discussion focuses on these issues, probing the reasons behind healthcare systems not fully embracing longevity and suggesting steps toward a more proactive, health-oriented approach.

Setting aside the fundamental self-care principles of "sleep more, move more," genuine longevity medicine remains beyond the reach of the average member of society, despite its demonstrated effectiveness. Several factors contribute to this lack of accessibility.

Firstly, the barrier of high costs stands prominently. Presently, longevity care exists within the domain of high-end, specialized boutique clinics that offer expensive services, often reaching hundreds of thousands of US dollars. These clinics primarily cater to high-net-worth patients who possess the financial means to afford such care.

Secondly, there is a notable deficiency in longevity literacy among patients, extending to a limited understanding of the term "longevity" itself. Even if universal access to longevity care were established, there might be a reluctance to utilize it. Patients of various age groups need education on the shift in medical care toward health optimization, emphasizing prevention rather than solely treating diseases. Initiating this educational effort is crucial, considering the entrenched principle of "do not fix what's not broken."

Thirdly, there is a relative scarcity of proven drugs and regimens specifically designed for longevity purposes. This perceived incompleteness hinders the feasibility of extending longevity practices to larger populations.

Fourthly, a deficiency in physician training is evident. Many doctors are unfamiliar with the concept of longevity, and becoming a longevity physician requires dedicated training. Encouragingly, the Healthy Longevity Medicine Society (HLMS) is actively working to standardize and facilitate systematic longevity physician education.

Lastly, the factor of readiness plays a crucial role. Some societies are not adequately prepared for the concept of longevity. Acknowledging this challenge is essential. For instance, implementing universal longevity care in a country like Norway, where social security, pensions, and overall well-being are at peak levels, could have substantial economic and moral implications. On the contrary, envisioning the same scenario in countries like Latvia, Romania, or Bulgaria, where pensions often do not exceed a few hundred euros, appears daunting. The feasibility in the former case seems plausible, while the latter scenario appears more akin to an impractical and challenging proposition.

To standardize and scale longevity, a comprehensive approach is needed. Drawing parallels with the adoption of innovations, it's evident that standardization plays a pivotal role in making new technologies part of everyday life. Safety, medical procedures, drug manufacturing, education, and even food have all been standardized to ensure widespread use and accessibility.

For longevity to become a widely accepted part of healthcare, standardization is key. Science, data, and efficacy alone are insufficient for the widespread adoption of longevity medicine. The focus should shift from exclusively treating high-net-worth individuals to standardizing and prioritizing accessibility.

Longevity needs to be envisioned as a turnkey solution or an end-to-end healthcare framework seamlessly integrated into existing healthcare systems. This integration should align with established patient care cultures or involve slight adjustments. Treatment innovations, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors and monoclonal antibody strategies, gained broad acceptance when incorporated into Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and universal protocols for diseases like melanoma.

Integrating longevity into traditional healthcare is complex, given its proactive nature compared to the reactive response of healthcare systems. However, coexistence is possible. Standardizing longevity care protocols and frameworks, led by institutions like the Healthy Longevity Medicine Society (HLMS), is crucial. Medical education must expand to incorporate longevity training, enhancing physicians' knowledge with proactive, preventive healthcare approaches.

Creating a network of institutions committed to longevity education is imperative. Additionally, demonstrating the economic benefits of longevity care is essential. By preventing diseases and promoting cost-effective care, longevity can reduce expenses for insurance providers, alleviate state burdens for healthcare costs, and maintain a healthier, more economically active population. This approach not only benefits public healthcare but also creates new financial opportunities in the private sector.

To gain widespread acceptance, longevity must shift its perception from an unattainable sci-fi luxury to a practical and integral part of existing healthcare systems. Instead of disrupting, it should complement these systems, contributing to their economic efficiency and alleviating health burdens. The field needs to establish itself as a distinct discipline with clear, standardized expertise, protocols, and frameworks. This demystification process is essential for broader adoption and seamless integration.

An analogy can be drawn to astrophysicists debunking myths about black holes and outer space, making complex science accessible to the public. Similarly, current advocates for longevity, including physicians, venture capitalists, academia, non-profits, and others, play a crucial role in presenting longevity as something integrable, understandable, and ready for use within our healthcare systems.

Phuong B. Le, MD