10 biggest longevity stories of 2023

Bryan Johnson, Peter Attia, David Sinclair...

Welcome to the latest issue of The Longevity Newsletter, the only longevity newsletter that’s fun to read. I’m your host, the Longevity Hound.

Since this is the last week of 2023 and the last issue of The Longevity Newsletter I will send before the New Year, I've decided to do something different from the norm.

I launched this newsletter back in January. I've since covered over 140 longevity news stories. I selected each one because it was exciting, new, inspiring, even breakthrough.

In other words, the 140+ stories I chose to write about during this year were all vetted from among thousands of other longevity news items and science papers.

And now, for this final 2023 issue of The Longevity Newsletter, I've gone through and picked the 10 biggest longevity stories of 2023. They will give you an overview of where we stand now... a sense of where we are going in 2024... and inspiration to stick around that future that's definitely coming. Let's dig in.

1. Bryan Johnson offers himself as sacrificial lamb to bring longevity to public awareness

Just another day in Bryan Johnson’s quest to bring attention to longevity practices and interventions

Silicon Valley multimillionaire Bryan Johnson has made countless headlines this year for his $2M/year personal longevity quest. There's no doubt in my mind that Johnson is the one person most responsible for bringing longevity into mainstream awareness over the past 12 months.

I've listened to multiple interviews with Johnson. I've only ever heard him to say thoughtful and sensible things. But he does have an effective PR team, and he is willing to get himself mocked and hated to get his message across.

That message is simply, "Don't die." Because Johnson believes — and I agree — that we are at a moment in history where we have enough knowledge to significantly extend human lifespan and healthspan via available interventions. And each day is potentially bringing new longevity breakthroughs.

2. Parkinson's stem-cell transplant a success in Phase 1 study

Dr. Viviane Tabar, a neurosurgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who performed the neuron transplants in this study

Back in July, we got news that scientists successfully transplanted neurons grown from stem cells into the brains of 12 Parkinson's disease patients.

Over the previous five years, there had been small experiments on transplanting stem-cell-derived neurons into the brains of Parkinson's patients. However, this was the first Phase 1 study to demonstrate the same. A bigger, phase 2 study is expected to kick off in Q1 of 2024.

Of course, this is encouraging news for Parkinson's patients. But it's also an important milestone for stem-cell research, which has been promising big breakthroughs for decades, but still has to produce a single approved, widely applicable therapy.

3. Glycine and NAC significantly reverse measures of aging in older adults

Three 70-year-olds after taking glycine and NAC — well, not really, but the results were impressive

A study from Baylor University published at the start of this year showed that supplementing with glycine and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) significantly reduces hallmarks of aging in older adults.

The results reported in this study are so big (50%-70% changes in different measures) that I had trouble believing them at first. But this is far from the only research showing the benefits of glycine and NAC supplementation, particularly in older adults.

If you're over 60 or getting there, supplementing with glycine and NAC could be the best thing you do in the next few weeks. It could produce huge improvements in your body and your wellbeing — and quick.

4. Peter Attia publishes his mega-bestseller, Outlive

Dr. Peter Attia — in the time it took you to read that name, 63 new copies of Attia’s new book have been sold

If Bryan Johnson did the most in 2023 to bring longevity into public awareness, Peter Attia comes in a close second.

At the end of March, Attia published his book Outlive. Thanks to Attia’s position as a popular podcaster, the book sold massively on its launch. It continues to sell well 9 months later.

As of today, Outlive has almost 10,000 reviews on Amazon. It's been endorsed, tweeted, and retweeted by a who's who of longevity researchers. And it got the most mainstream endorsement of all — an appearance for Attia on the Oprah Winfrey show.

5. Vision loss reversed in primates via Yamanaka reprogramming

This nonhuman primate, a lemur, is shocked to hear the latest rejuvenation news coming from Dr. David Sinclair’s biotech startup

This past April, for the first time ever, scientists reversed vision loss in nonhuman primates with a gene therapy using Yamanaka factors. This work was done by a team at Life Biosciences, a biotech company started by Harvard genetics professor David Sinclair.

Yamanaka factors are one of the most promising rejuvenation approaches we currently have. Scientists had already used it to rejuvenate brains and eyes in mice, but this was the first primate demonstration of epigenetic reprogramming via Yamanaka factors.

This was a giant step forward in bringing genuine, body-wide rejuvenation to humans, and a big feather in the caps of longevity scientists and proponents. Appropriately, Sinclair says that the next step is trials in humans:

6. Prenuvo's whole-body MRI becomes a status symbol

Prenuvo founders Raj Attariwala and Andrew Lacy, trying to show you how friendly and cozy the inside of an MRI machine can be

Back in May, 44-year-old TV presenter Maria Menounos announced she was free of pancreatic cancer after just a few months and one surgery. This good news was possible because Menounos caught the disease very early, thanks to a full-body MRI provided by a private company, Prenuvo.

The Prenuvo whole-body MRI has since become something of a status symbol. And while some expert radiologists warn against Prenuvo and similar on-demand testing, to me this is an undeniable sign of things to come: personalized medicine, and life-saving interventions that are made possibly by early detection.

7. Cross-species rejuvenation via youthful blood factors

Harold Katcher applied topical E5, his proprietary blood plasma fraction, to his own right hand

In August, a new study reported that a proprietary blood fraction from young pigs halves the biological age of old mice. We knew already that something in young blood had rejuvenating effects on old organisms. But now, we had evidence that these youth factors in blood could be used across species — and possibly, even in humans.

In fact, we've already had at least one human self-experiment using this same approach. Harold Katcher, the University of Maryland professor behind this blood fraction technology, applied a topical version of these youthful pig blood factors to his own 78-year-old hand. He says that scars and wrinkles disappeared, normal skin color returned, and the skin became much thicker.

Whether Katcher's self-experiment proves anything is up for debate. But combined with the animal data, this blood fraction stuff appears to me to be one of the most exciting and promising longevity approaches, along with the epigenetic reprogramming mentioned above in point 5.

8. First regulatory approval for CRISPR therapy

Emmanuelle Charpentier, Nobel Prize winner and co-founder of the biotech company behind the first approved CRISPR therapy

Back in 2019, a woman named Victoria Gray became the first person ever to be treated for sickle cell disease using a CRISPR. Today, all of Gray's symptoms are gone.

And this past November, the same CRISPR therapy, Casgevy, got regulatory approval by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. A few weeks later, the FDA followed suit and approved Casgevy as well.

It's amazing that a little more than a decade after its original discovery, CRISPR is being rolled out as a standard of care for a progressive, painful disease that had no widely available cure until now.

It also makes you wonder what the future might bring. This past August, we got news that scientists transferred a gene associated with longevity across species. A little more realistically, this past November we saw that a single, in vivo, human gene edit can permanently lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

9. Dog longevity trial kicks off

Irish Corgis, the longest-lived breed of dog, might soon live even longer

At the end of this year, the Loyal dog trial kicked off, testing the effects of a lifespan extending drug in 1,000 aged dogs across the U.S. The trial will go on for four years. The goal of of the trial is to see whether the Loyal drug (which has not been revealed for competitive reasons) increases dog lifespan by at least a year.

If Loyal is successful, it will get FDA approval to sell its drug to extend dog lives and owner happiness across the U.S. It would become the first approved medication for extending lifespan in any species.

Looking into the future, Loyal CEO Celine Halioua has stated that her goal — in case Loyal is successful with dogs — is to trial the same drug in humans also. It's not crazy to believe this could work. Dogs and humans, both large mammals, share the same environment. And approximately 75% of what drives longevity is believed to be environmental, and just 25% genetic.

10. XPRIZE launches $101 million longevity challenge

Hevolution CEO Mehmood Khan and XPRIZE’s Peter Diamandis making the big announcement

At the end of November, XPRIZE, the foundation started by Elon Musk and Dr. Peter Diamandis, announced it has launched its biggest prize to date: $101 million to anybody who comes up with a successful longevity therapy.

The competition will include hundreds of teams, who will compete for the next seven years. The $101 million will be awarded to the first team that creates a therapy that produces rejuvenation of 20 years or more.

Smaller prizes (as in $61 million) will be paid out if the therapy produces rejuvenation of only of 10 years. There will also be check-in periods every so often, and significant funds will be doled out along the way to competing teams that show promise.

The massive funding for this prize comes from Hevolution Foundation, a longevity organization recently started and funded by members of Saudi Arabia's royal family. Hevolution is set to ramp up its investing in longevity to $1 billion a year. It's another major sign of the growing interest and money that are flowing into longevity worldwide.

Looking toward 2024

A recent article in GQ claimed that 2023 was the year of obsessing over longevity. And no doubt, the big media coverage of the likes of Bryan Johnson, the Loyal dog trial, and the $101 million XPRIZE brought longevity to the attention of many people who hadn't thought much about it before.

But at the same time, 2023 saw plenty of genuine medical breakthroughs. And given the fast pace of development in the field, plus with increasing help from AI, it's quite possible that 2024 will see an even greater number of big longevity results.

In other words, 2023 might not be the year of obsessing over longevity, but simply the beginning of a time in history when a longer, healthier life becomes a realistic option for much of humanity.

I’ll leave you with that thought for this week. As always, thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post, consider sharing it with someone who would find it interesting as well.

Have a happy New Year, and I'll be back in your inbox next Thursday, with more practical, inspiring, and fun news based on the latest in longevity science.

- The Longevity Hound