The science of longevity and the pursuit of increasing healthy lifespan are at the forefront of medical and biological research, intertwining complex facets of genetics, nutrition, exercise, and technology. Longevity science seeks not just to extend the number of years one lives but to enhance the quality of life in those additional years, emphasising healthspan over lifespan.
Dr. Jose Cordeiro's statement at the Dubai Future Forum, "anyone who is still alive by the year 2030 has a good chance of living forever”, reflects the optimism surrounding longevity advancements. The UAE and Gulf regions are particularly proactive, as could be seen at the Future Health Summit held in Dubai alongside Arab Health 2024. Shaista Asif, Group CEO of PureHealth, addressed this in her keynote, emphasising the intrinsic link between healthcare and longevity. She challenged the audience to rethink healthcare beyond traditional clinical settings, proposing a vision where healthcare is synonymous with extending quality life for all, not just the affluent.
"...what is healthcare if it's not focused on giving people more quality time? Healthcare equals more time, more time equals longevity, ergo healthcare equals longevity," Asif exhorted.
Asif critiqued the current healthcare system as "sick care" and advocated for a transformative approach that democratises longevity. She envisions a future where healthcare innovations allow individuals to lead active, fulfilled lives well beyond current expectations, breaking the cycle of a predetermined life span. Asif put out a rallying cry to industry leaders to be catalysts for change, disrupting the existing healthcare delivery to make longevity practical, affordable, and accessible to everyone.
Dr. Mehmood Khan, CEO of Hevolution, addressed the complex issue of extending healthy lifespans, elaborating that the goal is not just to increase longevity but to enhance the quality of life during those additional years. He challenged the conventional approach to healthcare, pointing out that most life extensions in recent history come from public health initiatives rather than medical technologies.
Dr. Khan stressed the importance of addressing the global divide in healthcare access, warning that without a concerted effort to democratise health technologies, disparities between different regions and socioeconomic groups will only widen. He drew parallels with the spread of cellular technology to illustrate how innovation in business models and capital markets can facilitate widespread access to health advancements.
He called for a reevaluation of health systems to prioritise preventative measures over treating diseases individually, noting that curing all cancers would only marginally increase average life expectancy due to the multifaceted nature of health in ageing populations.
Dr. Khan also addressed the economic and social implications of an ageing global population, including the strain on resources and the need for infrastructure that supports an older demographic. He advocates for a comprehensive rethinking of technology deployment, healthcare policy, and public engagement to ensure advancements in healthspan are accessible and beneficial to all. His message underscored the necessity of a multifaceted approach to healthcare, incorporating public opinion, policy change, academic research, and ethical considerations.
The Summit also included a panel comprising of experts including Sadia Khuram, Chief Strategy Officer at PureHealth, Dr. Yoshiki Sawa, Professor at Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Osaka University, Prof. Dr. Evelyn Bischof, Founding Vice President Healthy Longevity Medicine Society, Marc P. Bernegger, Founding Partner, Maximon and Longevity Investors Conference, and moderated by Ali Hashemi, Co-Founder, meta[bolic]& GluCare.Health. They shared their insights on advancing longevity through medical, technological and business perspectives, and discussed the cultural differences in the perception of longevity, the importance of targeting age-related processes to optimise well-being, and the role of insurance companies in relooking at healthcare models. The discussion also touched on the challenges of aligning business models with scientific innovations to improve health outcomes. The panel concluded with thoughts on the importance of integrating longevity-focused practices into healthcare systems and the need for a collaborative approach to advance the field.
Dr. Michael Ringel, Managing Director and Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group, closed out the plenaries by challenging the notion that an ageing population will drain economic resources, arguing instead that extending healthspan can significantly boost economic value. Dr. Ringel displayed how past increases in healthspan were valued at over US$3 trillion annually, while even minor improvements could be worth more than US$7 trillion. A scenario extending just healthspan could yield US$367 trillion in value, highlighting the untapped economic potential of longevity research.
Dr. Ringel noted the rapid growth of the longevity biotech ecosystem, with a fourfold increase in related publications and double the investment rate compared to general biotech. With 200 biotechs in this space attracting over US$10 billion in investments, the field is burgeoning yet not oversaturated, presenting a prime opportunity for new entrants.