The inevitable infirmities of aging may not be so certain after all, experts gathered at Harvard Business School (HBS) say, and though few products on the market today can help turn back the hands of time, that may change soon.
“I think there is a lot of wishful thinking in the field of aging, where it’s something you can eat or drink [you know, wine], or not eat [you know, starve yourself],” said George Church, Harvard Medical School’s (HMS) Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics. “I think these might have small impacts … But I think very powerful medicines are right around the corner, including gene therapy.”
Church was among a handful of experts who gathered Tuesday to talk about the science and business of aging. The half-day symposium presented a dose of measured optimism that highlighted the mounting issues presented by a population that’s living longer and the progress toward understanding the biological processes that underlie aging and treating the diseases that accompany it.
The session, “FUSION at Harvard University: The Science and Business of Aging,” was sponsored by the Office of Technology Development’s Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator, which supports promising research by dealing with the development gap between fundamental lab work, which often attracts government funding, and projects advanced enough to attract business support. The event was also sponsored by the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship at HBS, which supports fellows working on biomedical startups.
Harvard President Larry Bacow introduced the session, welcoming participants and thanking philanthropist Len Blavatnik, who supports the accelerator fund and fellowship. Bacow said the accelerator has proven successful, with about half of its projects going on to attract corporate support, whether through partnerships, licensing arrangements, or startup companies.