Mellon on the Markets: A few thoughts on longevity

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Mellon on the Markets: A few thoughts on longevity

The autumn leaves are beginning to appear and even here in Ibiza the air is thankfully a bit cooler. I just did my twentieth week of fitness training with Frank from the Isle of Man, and a couple of other stalwarts, and there is absolutely no doubt that our individual leaves are turning autumnal and the energy of youth has long fled us.

So, the need to longevity technology to advance and have human impact is doubly pressing – for the vast new brigade of people over 65 (in Japan it is 25% of the population) and for those of us on the cusp of joining that cohort.

Master Investor’s Investing in the Age of Longevity event will be a showcase for some of the new technologies that are about to transform human healthspan, or the years of healthy as opposed to “illderly” living – and possibly, to add to our supposedly allotted lifespans.

This is a nascent industry, but one with enormous potential, possibility in the trillions of dollars a year. We know that some key pathways of ageing, identified since the unveiling of the human genome about twenty years ago, are malleable, or in other words changeable. Ageing is not predestined in the sense that we have internal clocks that count us down to death, but rather results from a loss of what is known as “homeostasis” or balance in our bodily systems. Improving our natural repair systems will help enormously in keeping people alive in a healthy state, and possibly for longer, rather than suffering the well-known indignities of old age.

There are several promising companies working in the ageing field including our own Juvenescence, which is exploring public listing options.

The path to even longer life than the 82-83 average life expectancy of people in the developed world and 70+ in the developing world is uncertain, but although no-one knows exactly what will work, we know that something will. Research and patience is what is required.

In a nutshell, the trajectory of treatments will include consumer products, which enable a healthier lifestyle, then the repurposing of drugs to help mitigate the ageing process, followed by regenerative medicine including the in-situ regrowth of organs and limbs, then novel drugs which will transform ageing, and ultimately, gene therapy for taking people to a regular and healthy life expectancy of over 110 years.

Timescales are always hard to predict, but possibly in twenty to thirty years’ time, with the help of AI in the development of therapies, and importantly biological clocks which will predict longevity effects in a shorter space of time than current drug development methods, we will be a long way down the road to changing the conventional perceptions of ageing.

I thoroughly recommend the Master Investor event, which will also incorporate some other exciting events. This day forms part of Longevity Week, which is focussed on the Longevity Forum.

In the meantime, lets look at some market trends. I am pretty sure the tech stock leadership in the US market has faded, possibly heralding a much bigger selloff. Stay away from these stocks for a while at least, if not for a couple of years.

The boring companies which are my focus at the moment, particularly in the UK and Europe, remain highly investible including Tesco, AXA Insurance (France) , Phoenix Group in the UK, and some of the energy companies which are too beaten up including BP and Shell. Lloyds remains a buy as do the gold miners especially Kinross and Barrick. And also, defence stocks such as BAE Systems and Babcock. Tesco just had some blowout results.

Japan took a tumble on the Chinese market shenanigans and the shortage of chips for the car industry but remains a long-term banker.

Thematically, I am convinced that some biotech and particularly longevity biotech, plus the “new food” industry remains our best bet for shooting the lights out.

Happy Hunting and see you at the Master Investor Longevity Week event.

Jim Mellon

October 9th 2021.


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