Subtractive Nanoparticles Are About To Transform How We Treat Disease

DeepTech: Where Engineering Meets Deep Science
The Synergetic Convergence of AI, Data Science, & Advanced Biomedicine

“When we get to the very, very small world-say circuits of seven atoms-we have a lot of new things that would happen that represent completely new opportunities for design. Atoms on a small scale behave like nothing on a large scale, for they satisfy the laws of quantum mechanics. So, as we go down and fiddle around with the atoms down there, we are working with different laws, and we can expect to do different things.”

Richard Feynman, PhD, December 29, 1959

On December 29, 1959, eminent physicist and Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman, PhD delivered a historic lecture at CalTech entitled There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom: An Invitation to Enter a New Field of Physics. Feynman spoke about the future of miniaturization when humans would be able to manipulate individual atoms. He speculated about constructing tiny objects that could maneuver inside the body at the level of biological cells. Living cells communicate with each other at nanoscale which is on the order of one billionth of a meter. Nanosized particles exhibit different properties and behaviors than larger particles of the same substance. A material’s melting point, color, strength, and chemical reactivity may change at the nanoscale. Feynman understood the unique properties that arise at nanoscale and anticipated the powerful potential of applying nanotechnology to medicine. Today, sixty years later, Feynman’s vision is becoming a reality.

Drug Development has Progressed in Waves

The First Wave

The first wave in drug development was to kill bad cells. Although killing bad cells can be beneficial, it can also cause serious side effects, secondary malignancies, and immune system damage that is harmful. First wave treatments are not an optimum way to treat disease in humans.

The Second Wave

The second wave in drug development was to stimulate immune cells. These checkpoint inhibitors can sometimes induce regression by blocking the “off switch” on killer T-cells. Blocking these receptors disrupts immune balance and leads to autoimmunity and it’s dose-limiting. Second wave treatments are also not an optimum way to treat disease in humans.

The Third Wave

The third wave of drug development is to fix aberrant signal flow. For most diseases, the problem is not bad cells or tissues, nor a weak immune system. The problem is incorrect molecular signals between cells. Correcting aberrant signal flow, especially to and from immune cells, is the future of medicine. Subtractive nanoparticles are a third wave treatment. This is a whole new class of medicine and it’s about to transform the way we treat disease.


The prefix “nano” means “one billionth”

5,000 nm — a red blood cell

1000 nm — a typical bacterum

100–400 nm — a typical virus

65–125 nm — SARS-CoV-2

120 nm — a NaNot

1 nm — a DNA strand

Removing Disease Causing Molecules

Lou Hawthorne is the founder of a nanomedicine company called NaNotics. His company builds subtractive nanoparticles called NaNots that are designed to remove specific disease causing molecules from the human body. NaNots don’t target diseased cells or stimulate immune cells. They modulate cell signals by depleting specific signal molecules or their inhibitors from blood.

Before he built the first NaNot, Lou Hawthorne asked Dr. Heiko Rieger — one of the world’s foremost experts on mathematical modeling of the tumor microenvironment — how long it would take post injection for NaNots to deplete a clinically significant quantity of soluble tumor-generated immune inhibitors. He assumed the answer would be some number of hours. Instead, Dr. Rieger responded, “ very fast — probably less than a minute. “ Hawthorne figured that this had to be an error so he asked to see the math. Dr. Rieger showed him the math, but even after seeing the math, Hawthorne was still skeptical. When Hawthorne’s engineering team, led by John Dodgson, PhD, built the first NaNot prototypes, they realized that Dr. Rieger was exactly right. NaNots started depleting the target within seconds and finished in minutes.

NaNots are biochemically programmed to deplete specific targets that drive different diseases. They are injected into the human body like a drug and can potentially treat any disease enabled by soluble molecules, such as cancer, autoimmune disease, and infectious diseases like COVID-19. In a mouse model of triple negative breast cancer, NaNots depleted more than 90% of their targets in less than five minutes and blocked metastasis.

This bio-animation depicts how NaNots are expected to function in cancer patients. Although just 4 minutes long, this video was 5 months in development with XVIVO, one of the top bio-animation companies in the world. Music and sound design are by jazz guitarist and composer, Stanley Jordan. This video has 4 parts, 1 minute each: 1) How innate immune cells normally respond to infected cells 2) How cancer thwarts innate immune response via sTNF-Rs 3) NaNot particle engineering 4) How anti-sTNF-R NaNot injection induces cancer cell clearance.

First Class Scientific Advisory Board

NaNots are based on several interrelated disciplines, including cell signaling, oncology, immunology, biochemistry, and nano engineering, and the science is backed by thousands of published studies. The NaNotics team is interdisciplinary and guided by world class advisors. Each member of the scientific advisory board was selected for a specific understanding of the scientific and engineering principles that inform NaNots as a new class of medicine. When Lou Hawthorne invited me to join the NaNotics scientific advisory board, he described the specific expertise that each advisor brings to the company. His vignettes, which are included here before each advisor’s bio, inspired me to write this article.

Keith Block, MD, Chairman Advisory Board

Medical Director, Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment

“I met Keith while performing diligence on the Immune Pheresis cancer treatment in Germany and the American inventor, M. Rigdon Lentz, MD, on behalf of a potential investor in the technology. My job as the organizer of diligence on Immune Pheresis was to interview people who were familiar with the technology to gain some independent perspective on both the technology and its inventor. Keith had referred several patients to Dr. Lentz and reported seeing “jaw-dropping results” in certain cancer patients whom he referred. I stayed in touch with Keith as I moved through the Immune Pheresis diligence process. Keith was so helpful and encouraging during the invention and testing of NaNots that I began to visit him and his wife Penny (a PhD) in Chicago on a regular basis, and he began to visit me and my wife in California on surfing trips. Yes this world-class cancer doctor in his 60s is also a surfer — but not just any surfer but a Big Wave surfer!” — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

In 1980, Dr. Keith Block co-founded the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Evanston, Illinois, the first such facility in North America, and serves as its Medical and Scientific Director. He is currently Director of Integrative Medical Education at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago and Scientific Director of the Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Education, where he has collaborated with colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and Bar Ilan University in Israel. In 2005, he was appointed to the National Cancer Institute’s Physician Data Query Cancer CAM Editorial Board. Dr. Block has published more than 75 scientific papers and numerous articles relevant to nutritional and integrative oncology and is the author of Life Over Cancer published by Bantam Books.

Brian Kennedy, PhD

Director, Centre for Healthy Ageing; Professor Departments of Biochemistry and Physiology, National University of Singapore

“In 2013, Brian Kennedy, CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, proposed that I serve as Entrepreneur in Residence at the Buck, meeting with their many scientists to discuss the translational potential of their work and reporting directly to Brian. I quickly realized what a valuable asset Brian was. Not only is he a superb scientist and indefatigable worker, but he also has a keen insight into the politics of science — whether at the Buck or the FDA and NIH — and the essential role for consensus-building and reaching across silos to achieve results. Brian was constantly traveling, giving presentations on healthspan and related science all over the world. Not surprisingly, he received an offer he couldn’t refuse from the National University of Singapore, where he now runs a top-notch lab researching the biology of aging. Following the invention of NaNots, I followed Brian to Singapore, where I’ve made many wonderful new friends and research partners. — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

Dr. Brian Kennedy’s lab focuses on cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndromes like type II diabetes. He also studies the genetic mutations underlying diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy, muscular dystrophy and Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, which resembles premature aging. A major focus of his current research is to determine whether pathways like TOR can be regulated to treat the diseases of aging. Dr. Kennedy has been acting Committee Chair of NIH Cellular Mechanisms of Aging and Development study since 2010. He earned his PhD in Biology at MIT where he took part in groundbreaking studies on aging. He has published over 80 manuscripts in prestigious journals.

Shazib Pervaiz, MBBS, PhD

Professor, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and National University Cancer Institute at National University of Singapore

“One of the most brilliant scientists I met in Singapore — after following Brian Kennedy there — was Shazib Pervaiz. I was introduced to him by Raja Kamal, PhD, who was previously in charge of donor relations at the Buck Institute and was instrumental in building the NUS relationships that ultimately opened doors for Brian and myself. Shazib and I hit it off from our first conversation, over iced coffee on a steamy Singapore afternoon. He has a deep understanding of all the pathogenic targets we aim to deplete using NaNots, and has suggested many targets we hadn’t thought of or fully appreciated. After a conversation with Shazib, I’m always both inspired and exhausted, because I have to work my brain so hard just to keep up with him! And as if his intellect weren’t intimidating enough, he’s also a nationally-ranked cricket player — despite being in his fifties, like me.” — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

Dr. Shazib Pervaiz holds a Full Professorship in the Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He has held various leadership positions at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, such as Vice Dean of Research and Graduate Education, and is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University in Australia. Dr. Pervaiz is currently spearheading a group investigating cellular redox status and its impact on cancer cell fate decisions with an overall objective of identifying novel targets for therapeutic intervention. Dr. Pervaiz has authored more than 145 research papers and book chapters and his research work has been cited over 12,000 times.

Jonathan Milner, PhD

Deputy Chairman and Founder, Abcam

“I met Jonathan, a Cambridge University don, in 2012. Jonathan was excited by the potential of NaNots, as a more efficient method of depleting the same inhibitory, tumor-generated targets of Immune Pheresis. In his email informing us that he would be making a seed investment in our company, he wrote, “I am fascinated and excited about your technology. I’m in the process of making a £5 million donation to the University of Cambridge to set up an Institute for therapeutics and innovation…to think out of the box for the next big breakthroughs……and [NaNots are exactly that].” Jonathan’s value to NaNotics has been much greater than the funding he’s provided. As the founder of Abcam — one of the largest suppliers of research antibodies to scientific companies — he’s a real marquee investor, an especially meaningful endorsement for a scientific startup. In addition, antibodies are a key component of NaNots, and Jonathan put us in direct contact with the current CSO of Abcam, which has been extremely valuable for our development process.” — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

Dr. Jonathan Milner is an experienced entrepreneur and business leader with a background in genetic research. After earning his doctorate in Molecular Genetics at Leicester University, he worked at the University of Cambridge in the lab of Professor Tony Kouzarides studying cancer. While doing his postdoctoral research, he identified the market opportunity for supplying high-quality data-rich antibodies to support protein interaction studies. In 1998 he co-founded Abcam with David Cleevely and Professor Tony Kouzarides and since then he has led the company from a startup to become the global leader in the supply of protein research tools. Dr. Milner is passionate about supporting UK life science and high-tech startups. He has provided considerable investment and support to over 30 companies and has assisted three technology companies to IPO on the London AIM Stock exchange.

Stephan Lensky, PhD

CBO/COO at EpimAb Biotherapeutics

“Dr. Eaton and Dr. Lensky — both brilliant and highly experienced drug designers — were judges in a 2017 contest sponsored by the European Nanomedicine Translation Advisory Board (TAB) to guide and promote innovative nanomedicine projects. NaNotics was selected over 90 other candidate companies and has been receiving world-class consulting from the TAB team. Dr. Lensky has a PhD in chemistry and currently serves as COO/CBO of EpimAb, which is developing best-in-class bispecific antibodies, and his deep technical knowledge has been helpful in identifying potential developmental pitfalls. Dr. Eaton was one of the scientists involved in the development of Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) — one of the five TNF-inhibiting drugs, the largest drug class of all. We’ve already prototyped a NaNot against TNF, which holds the promise of depleting TNF as effectively as existing TNF-inhibitors but without reducing immune competence — a major problem with the existing drug class. Dr. Eaton said, “Patients will bite their arms off to get their hands on that.” — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

Dr. Stephan Lensky is Chief Operating and Chief Business Officer at EpimAb Biotherapeutics. Dr. Lensky holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and started his professional career in Germany as a medicinal chemist at Bayer where he had been leading various research projects. In 2009, he gained operative commercial experience as the country coordinator for Boehringer Ingelheim’s Prescription Medicines Business in the United States. Dr. Lensky has been member of the BioFIT Steering Committee since 2014, a conference bringing together European Tech Transfer offices, Pharma, and Biotech. He is also a member of the nanomedTAB, an advisory board for nanotechnology sponsored by the European Commission. He headed the Corporate Department for Strategic Transactions & Alliance Management at Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH from 2010 until early 2015.

Mike Eaton, PhD

Executive Board Member of the European Technology Platform for Nanomedicine

Dr. Mike Eaton has worked in research in the Pharma industry for more than 35 years. At GD Searle he built the first synthetic gene for Urogastrone and sequenced human fibroblast interferon. He also built the first automated DNA synthesiser in Europe, which is now owned by the Science Museum in London. He has worked on low molecular weight drugs including the first non-emetic PDEIV inhibitor. Dr. Eaton is a special professor at Nottingham University and was an executive board member of the European Technology Platform for Nanomedicine, at its inception in 2005. His particular interest is commercial translation of nanotechnology research to nanomedicines — medicines to help patients. His article “Delivering Nanomedicines to Patients: A Practical Guide” in Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine, May 2015, is an important reference for developers.

Kevin Perrott, PhD

CEO at OpenCures

“I met Kevin at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging during my tenure there as Entrepreneur in Residence. He was in the process of completing his PhD, working in the lab of the legendary longevity scientist, Judy Campisi, PhD. I was impressed from our very first conversation both with his intellect but also his enthusiasm for longevity science, which became the focus of his life after surviving a bout of cancer. I lost a beloved mentor to cancer, and that led to my shift from pet cloning — which taught me a lot of deep science — to developing new treatments for deadly diseases. That’s really what bonded me to Kevin early on: a shared mission to use our capabilities and resources to reduce suffering in the world.” — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

In 2003, following a successful career as an entrepreneur in Canada, Kevin Perrott, PhD joined Aubrey de Grey, PhD and David Gobel to form the Methuselah Foundation which offered competitive prizes for advances in longevity science. A few years later he became a co-founder with Aubrey de Grey and others of SENS Research Foundation to develop interventions able to repair or make harmless the damage that accumulates and underlies multiple age-related disorders. Mostly recently, Kevin formed OpenCures as a for-benefit corporation helping individuals perform self-directed research, generate data, and focus the value of data on the health solutions they are interested in. Kevin has authored and co-authored several peer-reviewed articles all focused on accelerating the science underlying the development of therapies for degenerative diseases. He is a cofounder of multiple non-profit and for-profit entities whose missions are aligned with that purpose.

Margaretta Colangelo

Co-founder and CEO Jthereum

“I first met Margaretta in 2017 over lunch with Kevin Perrott at Hilltop 1892, a restaurant with a panoramic view of North Marin. The view sticks in my mind because talking to Margaretta is like sitting on top of a hill looking out in all directions at science, the biology of aging, literature, networks, cryptocurrency, AI, San Francisco history, and a plethora of other topics she knows a LOT about. She mentions a lot of names in our conversations, not to impress me, but simply because she collects people she feels are doing worthwhile work and she wants them to know — or at least know OF — each other. Margaretta is an enthusiastic conversationalist, but it never feels like a lecture, and when I feel moved to contribute something, she locks into what I’m saying with full focus and stillness as if she is memorizing every word; it can feel like the first time anyone has ever really listened to you. Years later I have no doubt that she could recall what we discussed the first day we met. In addition to the many things I’ve learned from Margaretta directly over the years, I also follow her closely on LinkedIn (like literally thousands of others) and read her articles summarizing vast quantities of research in many areas of science and technology; lately it’s been COVID-19 of course. I’ve come to realize that Margaretta is not just a remarkable person, she’s also a remarkably useful person, a master connector à la Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, and that simply by knowing her there are countless experts in various disciplines I didn’t need to know personally — because I can always reach them through Margaretta if necessary, or — even better — just have her summarize their research for me! — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

Margaretta Colangelo is Co-founder and CEO of Jthereum an enterprise Blockchain company. She has a deep and multifaceted understanding of business, science, and technology and is highly adept at tracking and forecasting innovation in technology. Margaretta has been at the forefront of emerging technologies for over 30 years. In the 1990s she was a core member of the team that developed the first Java based messaging software for stock trading platforms, and she’s been a core member of teams that have influenced important technical specifications that have helped advance the technology industry. She has published over 100 articles focused on applying advanced technologies to improve human health and Longevity. She serves on the advisory boards of the AI Precision Health Institute at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center and Ageing Research at King’s College London.

Wayne Jonas, MD

Executive Director, Samueli Integrative Health Programs

“When Wayne and I met in 2014, I was struck immediately by the contradictions that he embodies. On the one hand, he oversees research and publishes extensively in the field of mind-body health, and has a warmth and gentleness that one would expect of such an expert. On the other hand, he’s a retired Army Colonel, who stands straight and carries himself with classic military bearing. Wayne and I, unbeknownst to each other, were both studying the Immune Pheresis technology in Germany. I brought Wayne up to speed on our team’s diligence studies of Immune Pheresis, and he brought me up to speed on his plans to test the technology in clinical trials. After I invented NaNots — initially as a more efficient method of depleting the same tumor-generated immune inhibitors as Immune Pheresis — Wayne convinced his investors — Henry and Susan Samueli, the Broadcom billionaires — to invest seed funding into NaNotics in 2015. Based on our progress blocking metastasis in a mouse model of metastatic breast cancer using NaNots, Wayne convinced his investors to provide a larger investment in 2020 to support expanded animal studies, which are now in process.” — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

Dr. Wayne Jonas is a board-certified, practicing physician, an expert in integrative health, and a widely published scientific investigator. Dr. Jonas is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Medical Corps of the US Army. He was the Director of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health from 1995–1999, and prior to that served as the Director of the Medical Research Fellowship at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. His research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, Nature Medicine, the Journal of Family Practice, the Annals of Internal Medicine, and The Lancet. Dr. Jonas is currently the Executive Director of Samueli Integrative Health Programs, an effort supported by Henry and Susan Samueli to empower patients and doctors by providing solutions that enhance health, prevent disease, and relieve chronic pain.

Mitch Harman, MD, PhD

Chief, Endocrinology Section, Department of Medicine at VA, National Institute on Aging

“”Mitch and I met in the early 2000s when he was running Kronos Longevity Institute and I was running Genetic Savings & Clone, given that we had the same investor — John Sperling. Mitch, John, and I were all very close to Chris Heward, PhD, who was the President of Kronos. Chris, like Mitch, worked in endocrinology, which is the science of cell signaling. I hung out with them both at dinners and parties listening as they argued about the role of cell signals and inhibitors in various diseases; I think this was how I picked up the basic science that informed my invention of NaNots some years later. Chris was diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer in 2008. All of us were devastated and scrambled around trying to identify a technology that could save him. We heard about Immune Pheresis — a method of treating cancer by filtering tumor generated immune inhibitors from blood (the same targets we now deplete with NaNots). The development of checkpoint inhibitors like Keytruda was still years away so the idea that the immune system played a significant role in cancer was still very controversial. Chris was too far gone to save by the time we got him into treatment but we saw many patients derive significant benefit from Immune Pheresis. I considered raising funds to develop Immune Pheresis commercially and hired Mitch to oversee one of several diligence reports on the technology. In the course of doing diligence on Immune Pheresis, I learned that the mass of immune inhibitors being depleted from patient plasma in a single treatment was only about 10 micrograms — even in patients with multiple kilograms of tumor. I asked myself, “Why do we need a refrigerator-sized machine to deplete 10 millionths of a gram of target?” The idea for NaNots gradually unfolded from that question.” — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

Dr. Mitch Harman is founding Director and President of Kronos Longevity Research Institute, is board-certified in internal medicine and endocrinology. He’s a former section chief and acting clinical director of the National Institute on Aging, NIH, with an international reputation as a leader in the field of hormones and aging. At Kronos Longevity Research Institute he organized two large multicenter clinical trials, investigating effects of hormone treatment of older men and women, results of which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Annals of Internal Medicine. He is currently the Chief of the Endocrine Division at the Phoenix VA Health Care System where he is chair of the R&D Committee. He is also Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He has authored or co-authored numerous book chapters and research papers and served as president of American Aging Association.

Heiko Rieger, PhD

Professor of Theoretical Physics, Saarland University, Germany

“Dr. Rieger, professor of theoretical physics at Saarland University in Germany, is one of the world’s foremost experts on the mathematical modeling of the tumor microenvironment. I recruited him as a consultant with our initial seed funding, before we had built our first NaNot. One question I had for Dr. Rieger early on was how long it would take post injection for NaNots to deplete a clinically significant quantity of soluble tumor-generated immune inhibitors. I assumed the answer would be some number of hours. Instead, he said, “Very fast — probably less than a minute.” I figured that had to be an error. He showed me the math — but I was still skeptical. But when we built our first NaNot prototypes, we found out that Dr. Rieger was exactly right. NaNots begin depleting the target within seconds and are largely complete within a few minutes.” — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

Dr. Heiko Rieger is one of the world’s foremost experts on the mathematical modeling of the tumor microenvironment. His research interests range from many body physics (classical and quantum) over stochastic processes to theoretical biophysics, with a particular focus on dynamical processes far from equilibrium. He received his Dr. rer. nat. from the University of Cologne, Germany, 1989. After postdocs in College Park, Maryland, and Santa Cruz, California, he was a Heisenberg Fellow at the Jülich Research Centre. In 1999 he became full professor for theoretical physics at Saarland University. He has been a visiting professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, , and Université Paris Sud. He works on the statistical physics of nonequilibrium systems (quantum, classical, and biological), disordered materials, and quantum phase transitions.

Randy Cron MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics at University of Alabama at Birmingham

“I specifically went looking for a consulting scientist with high level expertise in cytokine storm, which includes sepsis as well as the immunologic overreaction driving the bulk of morbidity and mortality of COVID-19. We wanted such an expert given our hypothesis that NaNots are uniquely suited to deplete the inflammatory cytokines that drive cytokine storm without reducing immune competence the way antibody drugs against these targets do. The most — and best — papers on cytokine storm were from Dr. Cron, who is also quoted more than any other cytokine expert in top-tier popular media like the New York Times. We’ve had a fascinating back and forth by email. His emails all end with a Voltaire quote: “The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

Dr. Randy Cron is a Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Arthritis Foundation, Alabama chapter endowed chair in Pediatric Rheumatology. The Cron lab is studying the effect of macrophage activation syndrome on patient mutations for their ability to decrease perforin-mediated cytolytic activity in NK cells. Dr. Cron is co-editor of the first textbook devoted to Cytokine Storm Syndrome, and has been integral to research related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Cron is the Director of Pediatric Rheumatology and the Pediatric Rheumatology fellowship program at Children’s of Alabama. Cron received his medical degree from UCLA and a doctorate in Immunology from the University of Chicago, with Pediatric residency training at Stanford Children’s Hospital in California and Pediatric Rheumatology fellowship training at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle.

Aubrey de Grey, PhD

CSO, SENS Research Foundation International

“I first met Aubrey in 2002 when he was doing research at University of Cambridge and I was running the cloning company Genetic Savings & Clone, and serving on the Exeter Greenlight Committee — a group of senior executives from companies funded by John Sperling, PhD, tasked with helping John decide how to spend the hundreds of millions he had set aside from his billion+ fortune for scientific investments. Normally people showed up for funding pitches in suit and tie and bombarded us with scientific jargon and mumbo jumbo about ROI and Net Present Value. I don’t recall what Aubrey was wearing exactly but it definitely wasn’t a suit; his waist-length beard was then — as now — his most distinguishing feature. John, a huge fan of Monty Python, leaned over to me and whispered, “It’s the hermit!” Aubrey then spent the next hour delivering a riveting lecture on the multifactorial causes of aging and the possibility of correcting cumulative age-related damage, including his famous phrase, “The first people who will live to be 1000 have already been born.” The gerontologists in the room bombarded him with their erudite skepticism. Aubrey defended himself calmly and competently like the Cambridge don that he is. John asked how long it might be before his research could be commercialized. “Perhaps as soon as a decade!” Aubrey replied cheerfully. That night we all had dinner at John’s lavish house, with much merriment and vigorous debate. The next day, the Greenlight Committee assembled to review Aubrey’s proposal. I don’t recall the dollar amount of his request — minuscule as I recall. And yet, I was the ONLY committee member advocating funding Aubrey’s work; everyone else just kept repeating “Perhaps as soon as a decade!” Over the intervening years, Aubrey’s ideas have helped form the foundation of a new industry of enormous value. And along the way, Aubrey has continued to be a most excellent mentor and sounding board for ideas. — Lou Hawthorne, CEO, NaNotics

Dr. Aubrey de Grey is the biomedical gerontologist who devised the SENS platform, and established SENS Research Foundation to implement it. He is the Chief Science Officer of the SENS Research Foundation and VP of New Technology Discovery at AgeX Therapeutics, Inc. He received his BA in Computer Science and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Cambridge. Dr. de Grey is Editor-in-Chief of Rejuvenation Research, is a Fellow of both the Gerontological Society of America and the American Aging Association, and sits on the editorial and scientific advisory boards of numerous journals and organizations.

This article was written by Margaretta Colangelo. Margaretta is Co-founder and CEO of Jthereum, an enterprise Blockchain technology company, and President of U1Technologies and enterprise software company. Margaretta serves on the Advisory Boards of the AI Precision Health Institute at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center and Ageing Research AI at King’s College London. Margaretta is based in San Francisco.

Originally published at