Aging & Longevity

Bryan Johnson Edits His Genes To Live Past 120 

Tech mogul Bryan Johnson undergoes follistatin gene therapy to explore its potential for extending human lifespan beyond 120 years.

By Dylan G. Arrazati

Key Points: 

  • Bryan Johnson attempts follistatin gene therapy to extend his lifespan.
  • Preclinical studies assessing follistatin gene therapy indicate that it increases lifespan and helps thwart muscle decline.

Tech mogul Bryan Johnson is notoriously known for spending millions of dollars on his health, exploring widely-touted and unconventional treatments to potentially push the boundaries of human lifespan. In his latest venture, documented in a recently released YouTube video, Johnson takes us through his journey to the remote island of Roatan off the Honduran coast, where he met with the biohacking company Minicircle to undergo follistatin gene therapy. 

“I’m traveling to a remote island for an extreme Medical procedure that could change the future of humanity.  Humans have a 120-year ceiling and so far no one can punch through it. Gene therapy might be the answer. This is a journey in search of the Fountain of Youth,” says Johnson. 

What We Know About Follistatin

Follistatin is a protein primarily known for its ability to inhibit myostatin, a protein that, when activated, suppresses muscle growth. Notably, studies show that genetically modified mice lacking the follistatin gene exhibit increased skeletal muscle abnormalities, reduced body mass, and more frail muscle fibers. Conversely, boosting follistatin activity in rodents has been found to improve muscle regeneration, increase muscle mass by nearly two-fold, and even increase lifespan by over 30%. 

Together, the evidence suggests that follistatin has extreme potential in delaying aging, particularly physical decline, by maintaining muscle mass and strength. That being said, several longevity enthusiasts, including Dr. Peter Attia, are highly skeptical of follistatin therapy, stating that there is no real data, at least in humans, confirming its efficacy. 

How Minicircle’s Gene Therapy Works

Gene therapy is a unique form of medicine, as it involves introducing new genetic material into a patient’s cells to replace faulty or missing genes or to boost the body’s natural ability to fight diseases. Accordingly, Minicircle’s follistatin gene therapy involves injecting a plasmid – a circular piece of DNA – loaded with the follistatin gene. 

Johnson’s treatment required subcutaneous injections, which he described as relatively painless, involving a shot in the stomach and another in the buttocks. What sets Minicircle’s approach apart is the built-in safety mechanism. If the body reacts adversely, the introduced DNA can be deactivated with the antibiotic tetracycline, effectively halting the gene therapy process. This kill switch is a crucial feature, addressing significant safety concerns that have historically made gene therapy a risky venture​. 

Regulatory and Ethical Concerns

Minicircle’s home of Roatan has established itself as an experimental governance zone, which allows the biotech company to operate with a high degree of autonomy. The island’s regulatory flexibility allows Minicircle to pursue innovative and experimental treatments, like follistatin gene therapy, that have yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Along with the ability to overcome typical and stringent regulatory hurdles, Minicircle has abundant funding coming from powerful venture capitalists like OpenAI’s Sam Altman, contributing to the company’s ability to advance potential anti-aging therapeutics at record speeds.  

Johnson’s Final Thoughts

Remarkably, Johnson reveals that the treatment successfully increased his follistatin levels by 160%, which was one of Johnson’s primary objectives. Additionally, Johnson’s muscle mass increased by 7%; however, he notes that his body weight also increased by 5%. More impressively, his speed of aging decreased to a rate (0.64) slower than 99% of 20-year-olds, marking a huge win for the tech mogul.  

“I’m now officially a genetically enhanced human…This could be the most powerful anti-aging therapy I’ve ever received…This therapy could have huge implications not only for me but for all of humanity,” concludes Johnson. 

Johnson’s results appear to be promising, and while his assertions are undeniably ambitious, the true efficacy and safety of follistatin gene therapy can only be determined through continued rigorous testing and longitudinal studies. Despite the uncertainty, Johnson remains committed to exploring a variety of longevity therapies with the aim of surpassing the 120-year human lifespan ceiling. 


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