Money may not be able to buy happiness, but the X Prize Foundation is banking on the possibility of it purchasing improved health. The organization, known for funding global competitions to spur technological breakthroughs, has unveiled its most substantial prize yet—a staggering $101 million. The goal is to address the mental and physical challenges associated with aging, aiming to demonstrate, by 2030, interventions capable of rolling back the clock on cognition, immunity, and muscle function in older adults by at least a decade.

Jaimie Justice, an aging expert and executive VP of X Prize’s health domain, emphasized that healthy aging is not a luxury but a necessity, underscoring the urgent need for transformative solutions.

Rather than seeking to reverse aging, X Prize founder Peter Diamandis clarifies that the objective is to restore lost functions that accompany the aging process. While life expectancy has doubled over the last century, individuals often spend their later years contending with chronic diseases and age-related ailments. The aspiration is to enable people to feel vibrant and great in their later years.

The $101 million prize has garnered praise from researchers dedicated to developing aging therapies. It fills a crucial gap in funding, as most investments in longevity focus on treating specific diseases rather than addressing the aging process itself. The substantial prize could support trials necessary for regulatory approval, potentially validating therapies targeting the aging process.

Teams competing for the prize must develop a proactive therapeutic that enhances muscle, cognition, and immune function equivalent to a 10- to 20-year reduction in age for healthy individuals aged 65 to 80. This could involve existing drugs, innovative cell reprogramming, or entirely new approaches.

While acknowledging the ambitious nature of the competition, researchers believe that even significant lifestyle changes, such as alterations in diet, nutrition, and sleep, might contribute to the desired improvements in muscle function.

However, measuring success presents challenges. Specifics on assessing biological age improvements remain unclear, with cognition assessments posing particular difficulties. The foundation released preliminary guidelines for trial endpoints, including tests for muscle function, cognition, and immune response. Yet, these are subject to community feedback, indicating an openness to refining the approach.

Despite potential hurdles, the involvement of respected individuals in the decision-making process instills confidence in the project. The X Prize model, driven by substantial cash incentives to fuel competition, has previously led to radical innovations. With backing from Hevolution and SOLVE FSHD, the $101 million aging challenge marks a significant step in the pursuit of groundbreaking interventions for healthier aging.

By Impact Lab