How will your research contribute to extending healthy human life?
It has been clearly shown that dietary restriction is one of the most powerful intervention to slow aging and prevent and/or delay multiple age-associated chronic diseases in model organisms. My lab is studying the effects of nutrition as a tool to modulate the accumulation of metabolic and molecular damage leading to multiple age-associated chronic diseases in humans.
What were the major breakthroughs made by your laboratory or companies?
I was instrumental in launching a number of important clinical studies to investigate whether or not calorie restriction without malnutrition in humans result in the same biological adaptations that occur in long-lived experimental calorie restricted animals. Nowadays, the concept of “dietary restriction” is an important intervention to promote human health is well accepted in the scientific community (Fontana et al., Science 2010; Fontana & Partridge. Cell 2015), but this was not the case back in the 2001 when I began my pioneering research for addressing the complicated cross-talk between calorie restriction and metabolic health in humans. Similarly, I was one of the first scientists to suggest the importance of lowering protein intake as a key intervention for the down-regulation of the pro-aging and pro-cancer IGF-1/mTOR pathway in humans (Fontana et al., Aging Cell 2008; Fontana et al., Oncotarget 2013). The crucial role of protein restriction in regulating lifespan has been recently confirmed by a landmark paper by Stephan Simpson’s research group published in Cell Metabolism. We are also conducting studies on the effects of intermittent and prolonged fasting, and the role of nutritional driven modification of the gut microbiome in modulating health and longevity.
Can your research be commercialized in the future and is there any way to invest in this research today?
Yes, it can be commercialized. There is a potential huge markets of people that would like to understand their metabolic health status (well before diseases appear) and have tailored (nutritional, exercise, and pharmacological) treatments prescribed by a team of well-trained physicians. I am envisioning the creation of a net of state-of-the-art longevity clinics/Spa in major world cities that can provide a range of diagnostic/therapeutic services and sell a variety of products.
In your opinion, what are the most promising companies contributing to longevity research today?
Well, there are not many. CALICO is one of the new one. We will see if they are going to be successful in delivering what they have promised, or they are going to end up like SIRTRIS.
Do you think there will be significant breakthroughs in longevity research in the next decade?
Of course ! I am positive.
Do you think it is a good time for iVAO to get into longevity business and invest in biotechnology in general?
Yes, even if I do not know anything about iVAO.
Can you say a few words about the upcoming conference in St. Petersburg? What are your expectations?
I think that this is going to be a great meeting held in wonderful town.
I am looking forward to discuss and exchange information with other scientists.