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61 mins

The Problem Podcast

This CEO Wants a Fountain of Youth for Dogs. Can We Be Next? Please?

Jon turned 60 this week, which had him asking: “Can I live longer?” So we’re talking with Celine Halioua, the founder and CEO of Loyal, a biotech start-up with a mission to extend a dog’s lifespan. She believes that if they’re successful, it could work on humans too. Jon and Celine talk about Silicon Valley culture and ask the big tech question: Just because we can do something, should we?

This CEO Wants a Fountain of Youth for Dogs. Can We Be Next? Please?

EP 217 Final Transcript

Jon: How was your Thanksgiving?

Alexa: It was wonderful. 

Jon: Delicious. 

Alexa: How was yours? 

Jon: It’s my favorite holiday, we have all our cousins, uh, probably get about 30 people. Really nice. 

Alexa: Are you the host home?

Jon: We are the host home. 

Alexa: That’s fun. That’s a lot of power. 

Jon: Oh, it’s why we do it. [ALEXA LAUGHS] 

[INTRO MUSIC]

Jon: Hello everybody. Welcome to the podcast. ‘The Problem’ with me, uh, show’s out on Apple TV+ there, and you can check out season two. And we got new shows coming out, I think early next year I would think. This is our first post Thanksgiving podcast, we are all basking in the glow of, uh, family and friends, and wonderful. We’re joined by our writers, Kasaun Wilson and Alexa Loftus. 

Kasaun: Hey, what’s going on, what’s happening?

Alexa: Hello!

Jon: And later we’ll be joined. Guys, this is gonna be, I’m so looking forward to this. Uh, we are talking to a woman named Celine Halioua. She’s the CEO and founder of Loyal, this is a biotech startup. They’re working on — I s***t you not — a pill that could help your dog live longer. Like, I don’t mean live longer, like ‘Oh, it’s for arthritis.’ And they go ‘Oh.’ — like a longevity pill.

Kasaun: Like a fountain of youth pill?

Jon: Yeah. Yes. Kasaun. And if you think that I’m gonna give that to my dogs and then take it myself. Why Kasaun, how could you accuse me of such a thing?

Alexa: I’m in, I’m taking it.

Jon: I’m absolutely taking it. If that f***ing thing — can you imagine if that worked on your dog and you’d be like, ‘Hmm, peanut butter flavor and it makes me live longer. I’d be happy to.’

Kasaun: Am I not supposed to link you doing this around your birthday or —

Jon: Yeah, it’s a little rough. And this one was 60, which there’s just no getting around that one. 

[KASAUN WHOOPS]

Jon: You know, you see that s**t in the paper and you’re like, he was in his sixties, and people are like, “You know, I could see that. I could see him dying.”

Alexa: Yep. That’s 10 years over the hill.

Jon: Is over the Hill 50? 

Alexa: I thought, I think so. [KASAUN LAUGHS]

Jon: I didn’t, I did not know I was officially over the hill, now I’m 10 years passed over the hill, so I’m not even on the back like five. I’m on the back two, I’m just about to go into the clubhouse. 

Kasaun: Your last podcast of 59 was Hillary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice.

Jon: Oh my God.

Kasaun: You turned 60 and you’re like, “We gotta interview somebody who can make you live longer.” [LAUGHTER] like as soon as you turn 60, you’re like, “Guys, we need to switch this up.” 

Jon: Right. Talking to them is figuring out how so many people got to die sooner. [LAUGHTER] And then I immediately jump in and start talking about how I can hopefully, uh, get, get to live longer. But did you guys have — I know you didn’t reach, uh, epochal birthdays during that time, but did you have good Thanksgivings? Did you have a nice holiday? Did you spend with family and friends, et cetera? 

Alexa: It was beautiful.

Kasaun: Yeah. I had a great time. My mom hosted. It was in Delaware, which —

Jon: Nice. 

Kasaun: — obviously means everything closes at 6:45 PM so it’s nothing to do but —

Jon: Not the rest stop on 95 baby. [ALEXA LAUGHS]

Kasaun: Jon, you gotta stop talking about it like a club [LAUGHTGER]. You talk about, you talk about rest stops, like they’re clubs that you used to play back in the day.

Jon: I love them, baby.

Kasaun: But it’s great. You get to play Uno and Spades. My grandmother turned 91 this weekend, so that’s great. 

Jon: Wow. And how is she doing? Is she doing good?

Kasaun: Oh, yeah. She told me I was fat. So that’s always —

Jon: Grandma!

Kasaun: Yeah.

Alexa: That means she’s still with it. 

Kasaun: 100% [JON LAUGHS] 

Alexa: My step grandma is 94. 

Jon: What? 

Alexa: Yeah. And she’s– she made a whole Thanksgiving dinner. Crazy. 

Jon: She made it?

Alexa: Yes. 

Jon: You know what? F**k 60, 60 is nothing. Now that I’ve heard these stories, I feel reenergized. I may go back to school. [LAUGHTER] Knowing that I have so much time left on this earth.

Alexa: Maybe it’s time to get a grad degree.

Jon: It’s absolutely time to switch careers. [ALEXA LAUGHS] I’ve got plenty of time. Uh, now did you, when you go to the family thing, are they discussing, like, are they, like, do they pull you aside and be like, “What’s going on with Kanye and Elon Musk?” [ALEXA LAUGHS] Like, is it, are they current eventy?

Alexa: Oh yeah. Yeah. Uh, my grandpa has lots of articles that he clips and, uh, has me read [JON LAUGHS].

Jon: He has you read them

Alexa: He hands them across the table. And —

Jon: Are you graded on this? 

Alexa: Um, he —probably. [LAUGHTER] Mentally. Yeah.

Jon: Mentally graded. What have you guys been thinking of that? Have you, are you following the ups and downs of this?

Alexa: Well, yeah. I mean, Twitter is falling apart, um, right?

Jon: Is it falling? Now how could you tell?

Alexa: Well, there’s a lot of, um, ruckus. [LAUGHS] There’s a lot of ruckus happening.

Jon: More of a ruckus? Cause I’ve always found it to be like a pretty incessant s***hole. So I like, I’m just trying to think like, is the panic justified or is this just people noticing for the first time, like, oh, everyone here’s mean?

Alexa: Mm. Yeah. Well, one of the things is in China, everyone’s getting spammed with porn. Um, so that people can’t —

Jon: Say that again. [LAUGHS]

Alexa: Um, everyone in China —

Jon: Are you sure they’re getting spammed with porn or they’re in lockdown and looking up porn? [LAUGHTER] Like, I’m not sure that’s spammed. I think that’s, I’m in lockdown.

Alexa: No, no. Because, uh, so that people can’t organize, they can’t use Twitter to organize, um, demonstrations against the intense COVID lockdowns. 

Jon: Oh, I see what you’re saying. The government is spamming them with porn.

Alexa: Yes. You thought I was lying. [LAUGHS]

Jon: I — for a second. I thought you were lying, I apologize. Now is that happening because of a loss of guardrails in the new Twitter?

Alexa: Yes. Yes, exactly.

Jon: Okay. This is all coming together now. Thank you. That wouldn’t happen had the team–

Alexa: Yes, I think there was like a safety guidelines team that seems to be—

Jon: In case of porn, break this glass kind of a team. 

Alexa: Exactly. Exactly. And they were working hard, you know?

Jon: So this is perhaps a real world implication of now the loss of manpower.

Alexa: Yes.

Kasaun: If you show up to a protest in China, you, you know, you really earned it .

Jon: And everybody’s like, “How are you doing?” You’re like, “I’m exhausted. I’ve been jerking off for like 12 hours.”

Kasaun: It’s a very dehydrated protest.

Jon: I’m, I don’t even know what to say anymore.

Alexa: We have nothing left. 

Jon: Anybody I don’t have COVID, but I also don’t have any moisture left in my body. It’s a terrible situation. 

Kasaun: So obviously this week is like a very big Elon Musk week, which obviously we want to ask you about, Jon, your thoughts of, because–

Jon: I, I love the way he’s portraying this. And he’s like I bought this, this like this super weird like, you know, human bulletin board thing where everybody talks and he is like, ‘This is a choice between tyranny and civilization. If you don’t advertise on Twitter, the western world as we know it ends’ like, it’s just such an incredibly manipulative, like that’s the kind of s*** that you do. Like “baby, if you don’t let me go to this game tonight.” [LAUGHS]

Alexa: Some say it’s a little toxic.

Jon: Some say. Yeah. It’s the most manipulative,[ ALEXA LAUGHS] bizarre framing of this. Like, it just so happens that Western civilization depends on it just, this is a coincidence. The app he bought. It turns out, like, I have a feeling if he had bought Angry Birds, he’d have been like, “If there’s any taking down of the anger of these birds, democracy dies.” And it’s such like, and isn’t he? Everybody keeps saying, you know, uh, he’s for free speech. He’s the last person for free speech. He’s not for free speech. I don’t know what, I don’t know what this is. I really don’t. 

Kasaun: Cause as soon as people started clowning him on Twitter, he was like, “We can’t have that.” People are like, “Elon Musk sucks.”

Alexa: Right. He removed them. Right. 

Jon: What I don’t understand is if you’re gonna spend time validating identity, why wouldn’t you spend time validating information? What’s the difference? First of all, he says he wants it to be a town square, but town squares don’t have algorithms. Town squares don’t recommend other people to talk to that have crazy s**t to say like–

Alexa: It’s probably a bad time to mention, but, um, I’m actually having Elon Musk’s next baby. 

Jon: What? 

Alexa: Yeah. 

Jon: Well, Alexa, this is the perfect time to mention it.

Kasaun: Alexa had a choice between Elon Musk and Nick Cannon, and she made her choice. [JON LAUGHS]

Alexa: I said, let’s go Musk. You know.

Jon: You know, here’s what I don’t understand. If I control the media and all that, why isn’t anybody coming to me first for this s**t? Why does Elon Musk now get to control Twitter? I thought it was the Jews. 

Kasaun: I would like to assert my Fifth Amendment right. [LAUGHTER] 

Jon: But it’s just interesting that like a cabal that controls things. You could say that Silicon Valley, you could say that. I mean, if, if anybody has control right now, it’s the it’s those social media companies. 

Kasaun: It, it’s, it’s actually pretty damning to me that Elon Musk would be like, “Hey, Apple doesn’t want to advertise on Twitter. What, what? Y’all don’t like free speech anymore?” It’s like, that’s not how advertisement works. You could still, your app is fine. It would be the equivalent of Alexa and I being like, “come check us out at New York Comedy Club next Tuesday. But if you don’t come, you don’t believe in free speech.” It’s like, no, that’s not, I’m just, cause I don’t wanna –

Jon: I think everyone should advertise that way. 

Alexa: And that’s a great way to mention we have a show next Tuesday.

Jon: But that is, I think all advertising should just be that direct to manipulation. “Have a Pepsi, unless you don’t like children.” [LAUGHTER] And listen, no one wants to take the side of Apple as the little guy in this. No one wants to come out and be like, “Hey man, stop bullying Apple” cuz they’re unbullyable. 

Kasaun: Yeah. 

Jon: I would suggest when your, when your market cap is that many trillions, you’re relatively unbullyable. Even by most governments, I would assume. So for Elon to be out there and be like, “Well, how are they gonna handle a thousand alt-right Pepe memes?” When they, when the trolls come at Apple, they’re gonna be like, “What? We never faced anything like this. It’s Nick Fuentes and a frog smoking a cigar. Abandon ship!”

Alexa: He says he’s gonna make his own phone.

Jon: Make your own f*****g phone. [LAUGHTER] I dunno if he knows this. Everybody makes their own phones. Somebody makes them that fold.

Kasaun: Has he never heard of Nokia? [LAUGHTER] Like we could, you could go try. 

Jon: You know what, if you don’t watch this show I’m making my own television sets [LAUGHTER] , and I’m just start sending them out. And if you don’t watch them, you hate democracy. Man though, do any of these – you know, it always strikes me as do any of these f*****g people have anybody in the room that goes, “uh, I think you might be turning into an a**hole.”

Alexa: Yeah. 

Jon: “Like, I think so this whole thing, this Messianic thing, like it’s, it’s kind of a downer outside of just the people you control.”

Alexa: Yeah.

Jon: Silicon Valley, you know, we’re, we’re having a guest from Silicon Valley. But she’s doing her thing for good. She’s coming up with a pill to make dogs live longer. And if you don’t like it, you hate democracy and America. [LAUGHTER] And I’m just gonna build my own dogs.

Alexa: Why, uh, Jon, why did you want to speak with her specifically?

Jon: Because I have dogs [ALEXA LAUGHS] Alexa, and I love them. 

Alexa: Yeah.

Kasaun: I just wanted to hear you say it. 

Jon: It has nothing to do with what’s happening here. 

Alexa: Sure. 

Kasaun: We were like, “Man, Jon might want to talk about the implications of Silicon Valley, the effects on capitalism.”

Jon: No. I want my dogs to live longer.

Alexa: Fair. That’s very fair.

Kasaun: And you should be allowed to do that.

Jon: You know, Google now makes a foldable dog [LAUGHTER]. It’s so much better than the regular dog.

Kasaun: If Elon Musk can attack free speech and just tell people Thanksgiving is delicious. Whenever he feels like it at 2:00 AM you know what? On your podcast, go save your dogs, Jon. [LAUGHTER]

Jon: Thank you. All right, I’m gonna go talk to her and then we’ll, we’ll check back in. 

Interview with Celine Halioua Begins

Jon: Beauty we’re gonna talk to our guest now, we’re very excited about this we’re talking to Celine Halioua, she’s the CEO and founder of Loyal, which is like a biotech startup, developing drugs to increase, and the people, if you’re watching this at home or you’re listening to it, you’re gonna freak out, to increase the health span of the most beloved things in your house, and it’s not your children, and it’s not your spouse. Your dogs. Your dogs. Celine, welcome to the program. 

Celine: Thank you. 

Jon: This is a biotech startup.

Celine: Mm-hmm. 

Jon: That is looking to increase the lifespan of dogs. And one of the most heartbreaking things that people go through is the loss of their dogs. They have a life spans between– 

Celine: Yeah.

Jon: Sometimes six years to maybe 15 years, to 18 years if you’re incredibly lucky. What? How? Why? How? Why?

Celine: I mean, it’s a good first question, – I’m really interested in general on working on problems that are the combination of sounding incredibly crazy to the point that when I started Loyal about three years ago, I was actually embarrassed to say the phrase “dog longevity.” 

Jon: What is your, what is your background in terms of work or education or those things that would put you in a position to make people’s dogs live longer?

Celine: Yeah, so I grew up in Austin, Texas. I’m half Jewish, Moroccan, half German. Uh, first gen, we grew up with 15 cats. You know, multiple dogs, a dog named highway that we rescued off the highway. Three different puppies –

Jon: Sure. 

Celine: – that we rescued. Found on the street. Um, we used to take care of gerbils and turtles and squirrels and grackles with broken arms. 

Jon: So you were that house-

Celine: We were that house, the

Jon: You were the refuge, you were the wild refuge, uh, house.

Celine: Yeah. We had we had a lot of animals. and so the–the animal side has been there since day one. But I definitely did not grow up thinking I would start a company or biotech company or work on dog longevity. Uh, I actually got into college for art school, but then the summer–

Jon: Wait, what? 

Celine: Yeah. Yea like college –

Jon: So you’re not like, are, are you a biomedical engineer? 

Celine: I am

Jon: Neuroscience. 

Celine: I am, I got there, yeah.

Jon: Holy s***. All right, let’s go 

Celine: So, I got a full scholarship to UT Austin for art. 

Jon: Okay. 

Celine: And then the summer before I started my undergrad. I decided to do an internship in a neuro-oncology clinic. Uh, in part because I was actually really fascinated by MRIs. I thought they were very beautiful. The ability to see the inside of a body.

Jon: Sure, what 17 year old kid isn’t fascinated by MRIs and neurological oncology. That’s, you know, I’ve, if I’ve heard this story once, I’ve heard it a million times. 

Celine: So I, I decided to do this internship and I, I mean, honestly, I just met a number of terminal patients – 

Jon: Oh boy.

Celine: – And I, I kind of, I don’t know, when you’re 16, 17, 18 you kind of think that the adults can always fix everything, right? And I realized that with most diseases and kind of, you know, spoiler alert most age related diseases, there isn’t anything anybody can do for you. No matter how much effort, time, care you put into the problem. 

Jon: Wait what? 

Celine: Yeah. Sorry man. I know your birthday was yesterday.

Jon: Jesus, this is, this is the wrong time for me to be having this conversation. But a – 

Celine: I think this is the right time to be having this conversation.

Jon: Right. You’re probably right. You know I am. I just figured this out. I think I am 420 in dog years, if we were counting or seven – 

Celine: Well, Elon would like that.

Jon: He would, he would like that. He would, he’s gonna save us all or, or make sure we have free speech. 

Celine: Something like, something like that.

Jon: Yeah. I mean, we’ll definitely be able to talk about dog longevity on Twitter.

Jon: No question about that. You get involved with sort of this idea of you you’re watching, uh, uh, a geriatric process or a disease process, and you’re thinking to yourself, well, well, adults can’t fix this and then this puts you in the mind space to focus on biomedical engineering when you go to UT instead of art. And you take up, you’re, you become a neuroscientist. 

Celine: Neuroscience and chemistry double major, yeah.

Jon: Sure. No, you can’t have one without the other. I wouldn’t, I was not suggesting that you would go into neuroscience and not have a chemistry double major. I know you’re not a slacker. So you do that, you get out, uh, and, and do you go immediately to, uh, this idea of starting a company to keep people alive, or was this always about animals and dogs? 

Celine: No, Jon, so it’s a lot more complicated than that. 

Jon: I would think so, you’re a double major for God’s sake. 

Celine: I picked neuroscience because it was the class where like neuro 101, they’d be like, yeah, we don’t know how any of this. But it’s important. And I was like, great, that’s where I wanna be. And I started working in a lab in, uh, southern California called Sanford Burnham. And we were working on, basically replacing, so people have Parkinson’s disease. The disease is primarily driven by a loss of a certain type of neuron. 

Jon: Mm-hmm. 

Celine: Um, neurons have produced dopamine, which are kind of popularly known as like, you know, happiness, but it’s also actually really important for movement. 

Jon: I see, and so that, is it providing like the liquidity of your neurons? Is that the, is that what you’re with?

Celine: Um, I, I will make no comments on finance or FinTech. Um, but it’s more around the idea that it rewards uh, the correct intention, right? So when you see somebody who’s Parkinson’s, they often will be catatonic or trembling, and it’s in part due to this kind of misfiring and loss of firings of the, the movement, uh, regulation. But that’s all to say. We were working on replacing those neurons and it was just such a hard problem, right? You had to source, you had to source the stem cells, you had to put them into the patient. They had to not be a, you know, they had to turn into the right kind of neuron. They have to, you know, re neurons, uh, have these like long, uh, branches where they all kind of bind.

Jon: Talking about that. What are you talking about? The dendrites? Is that what we’re talking about? 

Celine: Yeah, look at you. 

Jon: What are those axons? 

Celine: Got some myelin sheath going. 

Jon: That’s all I, that’s all I eat. So you’re trying to figure out these problems. How does that get you into the space of, of aging?

Celine: Yeah, obviously it is very worthy. We’ll always work on helping people who are at the end stage of a disease. But why were we trying to help these Parkinson’s patient after they had already lost a significant amount of their neuronal mass, of their brain function? Right? So I got really interested in, okay, well why aren’t we looking earlier, and why aren’t we looking at prevention? Why aren’t we looking at reducing the risk of developing it? 

Jon: Mm-hmm. 

Celine: And long story short, this all kind of brought me to this field that I thought was crazy for a couple of years. It took a while to convince me, uh, of research around understanding the ways we age, and specifically the ways we age unhealthily over time, and how the processes by which our bodies age lead to the diseases that we’ve classically defined today. Does that make sense?

Jon: Does this put you into the SiliconValley transhumanist movement? Like does this, do you end up like draining the blood of adolescents to like feed into Peter Thiel’s eyes like that? 

Celine: That’s only, that’s Peter’s thing. 

Jon: That’s Peter’s thing. That is, that is not the standard issue thing in Silicon Valley, but there is. So you’re in this whole movement now about aging and is that the sort of “I made a telomere, uh, not unravel and so a nematode can live forever.” Like what’s, what is that?

Celine: I actually have one of those tattooed on my arm. 

Jon: A nematode? All right. That’s commitment right there. 

Celine: And a Black Labrador, which is the first dog that they showed Lifespan extension on. 

Jon: No, that’s the, the, I have the same open mic night and then move on to MTV and then, yeah. So, you get into the aging thing. But why then dogs? So the idea is you’re at this foundational point, uh, transhumanism or the anti-aging movement or any of those things, there’s an enormous amount of energy and money behind that.

Celine: Mm-hmm. 

Jon: What made you then flip to dogs? Is it that, are they a great analog for human genomes? Are they something, uh, close, not close? What, why them?

Celine: Yeah. I mean, so there was two, there was two drivers. One was the pull of dogs and how dogs age and the science of dog aging, but also the push – 

Jon: And they’re the best. 

Celine: – and they’re the best and, and like, I have a soft spot for old dogs. 

Jon: Cause, they’re the best. 

Celine: I think they’re cuter than puppies. Uh, controversial opinion, potentially. We’ll see.

Jon: That’s gonna, that’s gonna get spammed on the – That’s okay.

Celine: Celine, how did you get canceled? Oh, well, you know, I think old dogs are cuter. 

Jon: How dare she. She’s out. So you’re, you’re in this, this movement about aging. Do you come up with a discovery that makes you think, “oh, here’s a mechanism by which aging occurs, I think if we interrupt it there, we can extend life in a dog.” 

Celine: Yeah.

Jon: Okay, so, so tell me that – 

Celine: It was two things. It was two things. We… so there, there is this industry as you, you know, you’re talking about, around trying to understand aging and longevity and lifespan extension, but fundamentally every single company and group, including the ones that have like a billion plus dollars, looking at you Calico, uh, it’s Google’s big aging thing.

Jon: Oh. 

Celine: They’re not actually trying to develop drugs for aging. They are like looking at aging and then they’re developing drugs for cancer or osteoarthritis or ocular diseases or what have you. And so I was – 

Jon: So they’re, they’re looking at the effects of aging. When you’re looking at actually the aging process.

Celine: Well, so my, my thing. So for context, I just, I had done a bit of grad school in England, came to Silicon Valley. And I was there and I was like, “why is nobody trying to actually get a drug approved for aging itself.” Like why are we, you know, targeting these end stage diseases? Why aren’t we just targeting, you know, you, you living a, he long, healthy, – 

Jon: You wanna go to the root, you wanna go to the root of the problem. 

Celine: Yeah. I wanna go to the root of the problem. And so I started in people because that’s where I had been working, but I kind of quickly realized that it wouldn’t work unless I had a billion dollars or more. And even then, honestly, I didn’t see a way to develop an aging drug for people. Because fundamentally people live a damn long time. Right? Like if I, if I gave you an aging drug, it’s gonna be, you know 20,30,40 years before. I know. Um, I might be flattering you a little bit there, whether the drug worked or not. 

Jon: Well that was painful. I didn’t, I didn’t need to know that – 

Celine: Sorry man.

Jon: That last part – 

Celine: Sorry man. 

Jon: No, it’s, I get it. It’s – you’re not telling me anything I don’t already see every morning, so not to worry. 

Celine: Um, but it’s all about like, just is way too long of a feedback loop. So I was like, okay, how can we have a shorter feedback loop? How can we get the first of a drug approved, you know, for aging, for lifespan extension? And it was at the same time that I was thinking about this problem that I was just reading into dogs and how dogs age, and specifically how big dogs age. 

Jon: Mm-hmm. 

Celine: So you referenced it earlier, but some dogs might only live 6,7,8 years of age.

Jon: Sure, your Great Danes, the bigger dogs. Isn’t that counterintuitive that the larger dogs –

Celine: Mm-hmm. 

Jon: I was always under the impression that larger mammals lived longer, and that the little mammals lived shorter because of their metabolisms. That they process everything so quickly. So isn’t that why when you’re doing, you know, people study in labs that the fruit fly was such a – 

Celine: Yeah.

Jon: You know, such a tremendous mutogenic study because you could go through like 10 generations in a weekend.

Celine: Yeah, Uh, exactly. It is. But the opposite happens in dogs –

Jon: Yeah I don’t like that. 

Celine: – And there’s actually at the edges a 2x difference between the average lifespan. So, you know, a great dane might live six to nine years and they actually age faster too, like a three to four year old great dane and will start going gray in a muzzle already.

Jon: Wow. 

Celine: While the chihuahua will live, you know 15,17,18 years. And some people say it’s just fueled by spite, and that might be potentially true. But if you actually look into the genetics of dogs and dog size, and this was kind of the aha moment for me-

Jon: Uh-huh. 

Celine: We, so there’s no one gene that controls, you know, the size of a human and being, you know, six and a half feet tall isn’t gonna make you live a much shorter life than, you know, being five and a half feet tall. But if you look into the, the genetics – 

Jon: That actually makes me sad cuz that I thought that was the only advantage I had. 

Celine: Are you Ashkenazi or are you Sephardic? 

Jon: Oh, uh, Ashkenazi, I believe, right? Isn’t that Eastern European? Eastern European is Ashkenazi. 

Celine: Yeah. 

Jon: Yeah, that’s right.

Celine: I ask because there’s actually– 

Jon: You’re not gonna tell me when I’m gonna die, are you?

Celine: No. 

Jon: Is this, is this gonna get super weird? 

Celine: This is good news, Jon. There’s some longevity centenarian genes in Ashkenazis. So actually,.

Jon: Boom. 

Celine: Yeah. So this all comes together because the genes that control dog size and specifically make big dogs live a shorter life, uh, is all connected to one of the most well understood and OG longevity pathways there is. So that’s why I have the worm tattooed on my arm because the first time they showed was a single gene mutation that they could make a worm live longer. They made that worm genetically like a chihuahua and the inverse was true too. 

Jon: Get the f**k. So let me ask you a question though. 

Celine: Yeah. 

Jon: So if they, if so ethically, you know, extending a nematode isn’t necessarily gonna burn out societal resources or a chihuahua, but we all know where this is going. So once you figure out how to do it with a chihuahua, there’s no question that people are gonna be banging down your door going, “make this into a gummy and give it to me now.” There, there must be. 

Celine: Yeah, probably, I mean –

Jon: That’s gotta be the end game. So when did you start, have you tested this drug on a dog?

Celine: Uh-huh. We actually dosed our first companion dog, uh, a couple weeks ago. And we’ve shown age related disease or age related negative impact, benefit in dogs treated with our drug.

Jon: Get – Okay. 

Celine: Yeah. 

Jon: This is where the rubber meets the road. 

Celine: Yeah. 

Jon: So you’ve given this dog, not only does it, well, it’s only been a couple of weeks. I don’t know how you figured something like that out, but the idea would be that it’s not even just suspending the aging process. You’re rolling it back in a dog. 

Celine: So we’ve, we dosed the first companion dog with specifically our, our second drug program that’s for dogs of any size, mostly any size, any breed who are already showing signs of aging. And in our first drug program is trying to make bigger dogs have a longer lifespan by correcting for basically when people were breeding for a size, our thesis is that they accidentally gave dogs an accelerated aging disease. Basically, the thing that controls the dog growing really quickly in puberty – 

Jon: Wow.

Celine: Don’t fully turn off. Then the dog ages at a faster rate and dies sooner. Um, and this is where it all connects. So the Ashkenazi uh, mutation makes the, uh, that some Ashkenazi Jews have, makes them more like the chihuahua and they actually are shorter too.

Jon: Well, I got that, that’s for sure. So, uh, let me ask you this, are you testing it on, uh, good boys and bad boys or just good boys?

Celine: All of them, all dogs are equal to us. Cute dogs, uncute – 

Jon: And cute dogs. So they’re all, every, they’re all good boys. You’re saying, what you’re saying is, 

Celine: And good girls. 

Jon: All dogs go to heaven, but –

Celine: Hell yeah!

Jon: – You would just like to make them go a little later. You would like to – 

Celine: And a little bit happier. 

Jon: Right. 

Celine: So it’s not just about like, the aging field has such a – 

Jon: Right. Cause arthritis, listen, hip dysplasia, the breeding on dogs has been astronomical. I mean, we’ve done so many weird things to them. And created all kinds of, of, of issues. The idea that this could help them uh, more healthful lives is – man.

Celine: Well, that’s exactly it, right? Like when we, like, it’s not like we domesticated the wolf and a pug popped out, right? Like they, we created all of these dog breeds because we wanted dogs that were, you know, protectors like my Rotty, uh, protectors, like your Pitty or you know, whatever other breeds we wanted retrievers. But this had genetic consequences on these dogs, and one of them is that the bigger a dog is the shorter their lifespan is. And so we are trying to fix it. 

Jon: But what is it doing? What, what, like this is the holy grail of the human condition. I mean, I assume you’re, you’re aware that you are on the tightrope ethically and otherwise, but, but this is the holy grail that man has, you know, Ponce De Leon was searching for the fountain of youth. Like this is what everyone – for God sakes, Walt Disney froze himself for this moment.

Celine: I have a friend working on that too. 

Jon: Oh, for God sakes. Silicon Valley is the most f*****g weird place. 

Celine: Oh yeah, totally. 

Jon: I can’t even imagine the messianic tendencies of that entire region. But the gravity of this has that, and the idea that it’s a pill –

Celine: Yeah.

Jon: Seems crazy to me.

Celine: Yeah, I mean, –

Jon: What does the pill do? 

Celine: So the first one, the one for big dog, short lifespan, we’re basically, so we’re basically the thing that drives the dog to grow faster-

Jon: Mm-hmm.

Celine: We’re just trying to turn that off or turn it down after the dog is fully grown. So we don’t, we’re not shrinking the dogs or anything like that, we’re not making Medium Danes. 

Jon: Wouldn’t that already be turned off once they, once they grow? 

Celine: It should be, but it’s not. 

Jon: But it doesn’t, it stays, 

Celine: Yeah, it stays. 

Jon: I see. So you’re, that, that part of that process you’re gonna try and turn down? 

Celine: Yeah. So we’re basically damping it down. So we’re making a –

Jon: Ok.

Celine: The, the biology of a Great Dane look maybe more like an Aussie Shepherd or a medium size sized dog. So we’re not gonna make these Great Danes live till, you know, chihuahua’s lifespan. 

Jon: Right. 

Celine: I think that’s pretty unlikely, but hopefully we can add a few more healthier years and specifically help them – 

Jon: But that people don’t –

Celine: – be active longer. 

Jon: – have that. That mechanism going so that’s not–

Celine: No.

Jon: So that’s not, what’s the other pill? That’s probably more akin to—

Celine: So that was actually the thesis. So we wanted to start with something that connected, something the world already understands and knows, which is genetic diseases–

Jon: Right

Celine: –and specifically genetic associated diseases in dogs because of inbreeding. Um, so you mentioned hip dysplasia before. That’s genetically controlled. So that’s why we started there, right? Cause we’re introducing something really weird. We’re like, “Hey guys, we’re getting this drug approved (hopefully) for aging and nothing else. But don’t worry, it’s around things that you already understand. It’s around genetics and all of that.”

Jon: Mm-hmm. 

Celine: Our second drug, exactly as you said, we wanted to be more broad, something that’s more broadly applicable and something that’s also, will teach us more about how humans age and how other organisms age. And so this one is looking at metabolic fitness and specifically the reversal and the halting of metabolic decline, um, as an animal gets older. The other thing it’s looking at, what’s really interesting is, so if you look at an older, some older individuals will often have very skinny legs, but in a bigger belly, um, with age, you actually get a redistribution of fat. 

Jon: You know, the belly by way is, is almost entirely pie. I don’t know if you knew that as you age.

Celine: Pie. [CELINE LAUGHS]

Jon: But generally the legs stay the same, but the midsection begins to fill with a variety of pies. 

Celine: Pumpkin pie? Apple pie?

Jon: The actual breed of the pie is not the question, but it’s merely mostly pie. 

Celine: Mm. Okay. 

Jon: At least in, at least in my case, it’s-

Celine: I really like pie, so that sounds, that sounds great to me.

Jon: What’s not to like about, if you could, if you could create a pill, this is the next project that could make short people live longer and somehow be impervious to pie, then you’d really have something. Are you gonna, you here, Celine, you’ve gotta answer me this. 

Celine: Yes. 

Jon: This seems so crazy. I just wanna make sure, like, I’m not gonna read about you three years from now going to jail. Like I don’t–

Celine: I mean me too. I could not handle jail. [CELINE LAUGHS]

Jon: I don’t want, I don’t want this to be one of those Silicon Valley situations where they’re like “she’s a super genius. She’s got a pill that makes you younger and her own Bitcoin”, 

Celine: Jon stop. 

Jon: And then it’s all gonna turn out that, you know, you actually did just go to art school and you really don’t know anything about it.

Celine: No, no, no, no, no, no. 

Jon: Alright. 

Celine: So there’s a, this is actually something I care a lot about because it’s – look Silicon Valley is weird, like I always say that I feel like despite the fact that I am a woman, I have some of the biggest balls with the people I hang around. Right?

Jon: Right, right. 

Celine: Because they all, they’re like these giant brains and super talented and have all the opportunities in the world and they go work on increasing revenue of like some stupid BB SaaS product or whatever. 

Jon: Right. 

Celine: And I think it’s actually really important that if you have the skill sets, the desire, the opportunity that you work on things that help push forward humanity and help push forward things –

Jon: Right.

Celine: – that will materially impact society. And so-

Jon: Are there any break – can I ask you, are there any breaks in Silicon Valley? Like I wonder sometimes. Cause you know, I think about like artificial intelligence. We’ve been warned since Asimov that artificial intelligence is going to be the thing, you know, rise of the Terminator and, uh, it’s going to become sentient and it’s going to destroy us. And so far all we figured out how to use it for is like recommendations for who to follow on Twitter. So like are there people there who are focused on the consequences of this ambition? There’s so much ambition in Silicon Valley. 

Celine: Yeah. 

Jon: And there’s certainly an incredible amount of intelligence and money, but is there anybody in the room who raises their hand and goes, “Wouldn’t that blow up Sacramento?” Like how much of the ethical and larger consequence is taken in, or are people so enamored of the possibilities that it’s actually a dangerous place? 

Celine: I don’t think it’s a dangerous place, but I do think, I do think there has been, so one of the things when I decided to build Loyal is I wanted to align my economic incentives with something that would also be positive for society. And I think that’s something that you don’t often – so for example, if I, you know, if we are successful and we do get this drug FDA approved for lifespan extension, we will make more money if your dog lives longer because your dog will be on our drug longer, right? We are, we are aligned with your dog living a longer, healthier life. Even if I’m just this cold capitalist who doesn’t give a s*** about dogs. 

Jon: Mh-mm. 

Celine: Uh, versus for example, you know, Zuck, I don’t think when Zuck was in his dorm room, he was like, “Yeah, I want to, you know, destabilize international politics and election integrity.” Right? The –

Jon: No, but that’s my point. 

Celine: The incentives.

Jon: Unintended. I guess my point is how many people in the room, if you were looking at it, how many people in the room are on the unintended consequence beat? That, that basically game out as everybody’s gaming out the process. Like if we gamed out this drug, right? If this works, which by the way, like I’ve got a year old dog and an year old dog, and like, if this works, and God, it better f***ing work soon for, for these guys. But like, and then people get it? The unintended consequences, people are, we’re generally locusts to begin with. And if you, if you take an 80 year old and take them, put them and make them all a hundred or like clearly we’re gonna have a resource problem in this world. 

Celine: I don’t think that’s true though. So I would actually push back on that. So it’s when people think about aging drugs and extending lifespan because of the way a lot of age related disease drugs work, like, let’s think about chemotherapy, right? Chemotherapy in most cases is not extend your quality life it ventures more around, you know, the number of years the patient has right?

Jon: It try, it tries to balance killing the cancer with killing everything else around it.

Celine: Yeah. But that’s not how an aging drug works. It’s not pulling out the last unhealthy years of a person or a dog. It’s extending the healthy middle years. And so a society where you have a more productive class that’s able to work, that’s able to take a second career potentially, or like for example, before Obamacare and all of that, you know? 

Jon: Mm-hmm. 

Celine: Not everyone in my family had health insurance and I had pretty bad health insurance and I had a lot of medical debt for a long time and thank God I was able to come to Silicon Valley and I was able to pay it off. 

Jon: Right. 

Celine: But like things like medical debt or my, you know, parents being ill or being financially responsible, they’ve disproportionately impact people who don’t come from, you know, financially strong backgrounds. Because it’s not like, 

Jon: But you do real– like, this will, there’s no question that a drug like that will be more available to the wealthier –

Celine: I don’t think that’s true, actually. 

Jon: Oh, Celine – 

Celine: No, no no no no. 

Jon: Alright. We, you know what we are right now, we’re so in between utopia and dystopia, and that, this is the, I feel like we’re all in like an Aldous Huxley novel right now. So you’re saying “there is a utopia” and I’m saying “we’ll turn it into a dystopia, Celine that’s what we do.”

Celine: I mean, I know people suck. Uh, so for –

Jon: [JON LAUGHS] All right, but you want them to suck longer. 

Celine: I want them to suck less. 

Jon: Alright. 

Celine: So, uh, one of my pet theories actually go on a little bit of a tangent and I’m gonna answer your question. 

Jon: No, no no, bring it. Yes.

Celine: Is, you know, one of the challenges of society, it’s like you kind of have this crystallization at each generation, right? 

Jon: Ok.

Celine: Of, you know, their biases and the way they view their world. And I’m really curious, like, what would an aging drug do to cognitive flexibility? Like, is there a world where the biases to the generations you know, one above us actually can be relearned. And that it’s not inherent that you have to hold onto the biases of the generation that you were raised with. And the reason I bring this up is because one of the studies we looked at – 

Jon: You’re saying this is a drug that actually alleviates prejudice?

Celine: I don’t know, but it could at least facilitate potentially, like, I’m not saying our drugs necessarily do this. But one of the things we look at is, uh, cognition in aged dogs treated with our drug.

Jon: Right. 

Celin: And one, one of the ways you actually, one of the things that changes the most is age related cognitive decline in dogs. By the way dogs do get dementia, is the ability to relearn, uh, something, right? 

Jon: Oh, you know, I think there’s a, I think there’s a saying about that.

Celine: Yeah, exactly!

Jon: I believe, I believe there may be something that has crystallized around that, that song.

Celine: Potentially, potentially. 

Jon: Yes. The difficulty of teaching, said dog. 

Celine: Exactly. But one thing is we’re looking at teaching these like old dogs, is seeing whether an aging drug that impacts cognitive impact helps those dogs learn new tricks better, faster. 

Jon: I would think that would absolutely. I mean, I think it’s been pretty clear that, that as you age, uh, it becomes more difficult to make those kinds of connections. You know, uh, I tried to learn music at , right? 

Celine: Yeah. 

Jon: Uh, I’m getting my a** handed to me by 13 year olds in music class. Like, they’re just, they just pick it up quicker. They have it, you know what it is? It’s a fluency that is harder to happen, uh, in your brain. But I guess that the one thing I wonder is would we be unleashing the part of our society that has already accumulated the most resources in our society, and would we be putting our younger members of the society at even more of a disadvantage by competing against super people at or as opposed to they got a hard enough time climbing the ladder. Should older people not bow out necessarily, but you get my point. 

Celine: I totally get your point. So the, we didn’t quite get to this, but –

Jon: Okay, okay. 

Celine: After I did the stem cell Parkinson’s work, I actually started a PhD at Oxford because I was interested exactly in this question because I was pissed, honestly, that I had at that point at least $30,000 of medical debt. And not to mention all the medical care you don’t get when you know you have to pay a s*** ton just to like walk in. Right? 

Jon: Right, right right. Yes.

Celine: And it’s like, screw this. Like screw the US, I’m going to Europe, I’m going to the NHS, and I’m never gonna have a medical bill again. Right? And so that, I went to Oxford because I wanted to study the differences between the NHS, you know, single payer healthcare system where the incentives are aligned, right? The NHS cares what your healthcare now and also in years from now. 

Jon: Correct.

Celine: Versus the US where there’s more money to pay per patient depending on the kind of care you have, but they’re not, not a lot of long-term incentivization. 

Jon: Mm-hmm. 

Celine: And I bring this up because there is absolutely, I a hundred percent agree. inequity in healthcare access in the US and actually it’s some of the worst inequity is in around how we treat age related diseases. They’re these, these cancer drugs and new CAR-T therapies that are, you know, half a million dollars. Not to mention you have to be able to access this very specific facilities where this happens. It’s insane.

Jon: Basically our, the industry around elder care is parking lots. We basically find lots, you know, you go to these facilities if you can afford it, but other than that, like it’s parking lots. Like they place you in a room and God bless the people that do their best to take care of them. 

Celine: Yeah. 

Jon: And, and their families. But like, people struggle with resources and as you get older and you’re no longer able to provide those resources, you know, as that space expands of the amount of time you live without being able to do that, uh, without being able to, to earn your own, uh, keep there, it becomes more and more fraught. I would think.

Celine: It’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible. But the –

Jon: Did you find the NHS had a better system on that?

Celine: Um, I don’t know about elder care, so I was really interested in the preventative care before the person. Became –

Jon: Okay, okay. I see. 

Celine: Became ill. And so that’s how I think about aging drugs. So there are definitely groups that are working on super expensive types of aging drugs that, you know, if they ever make get approved are gonna be a million dollars, half a million dollars. And I agree there will be inequitable access to those drugs. One of the cool things that about, at least how we’re trying to approach it, is that we’re looking at preventative medicine. And specifically, like one me way to think about it is statins, you know, a large portion of the-

Jon: Mm-hmm. 

Celine: –adult US population is on statins to reduce their risk of future cardiac events. That’s what I think an aging drug should be. It should be a cheap, daily pill, 

Jon: I see. 

Celine: That somebody takes or reduce their risk of a future disease that would be extremely expensive to take care of. 

Jon: The lesser side of a statin is a relatively safe –

Celine: Yep. 

Jon: Uh, drug with, with very few side effects. 

Celine: Yep. 

Jon: And, your anti, you know, when, when they talk about certain Alzheimer’s drugs, they’re like, “now there is, uh, one thing that does happen is your brain seizes and then your nose explodes and you die.” So, balancing that I imagine is difficult.

Celine: Yeah, that’s exactly it. Like the safety bar is super important. 

Jon: You’re dealing with all these ethical questions while you’re also dealing with the question of, “is this gonna work and is it going to shut off the gene you want it to shut off and open up the gene you want it to open up?” and this has nothing to do with telomeres unraveling. This is literally looking at the programming of the individual species, seeing where the program advances aging and slowing that down.

Celine: Exactly. We are working on slowing the rate by which an animal, in this case dogs, maybe one day people, ages over time to reduce a risk or dampen the probability of a future age related disease. 

Jon: But it’s not necessarily metabolic, in other words, it’s not like, and you can only have, if you go on this drug, you can only have half a brownie.

Celine: No.

Jon: Every week. 

Celine: No. 

Jon: And like, because we’ve so slowed down your, it doesn’t slow down your process of like other biological processes. Respiration, digestion – 

Celine: Exactly. 

Jon: – all that. Other kinds of stuff.

Celine: Hilariously, actually, one of the biggest flops at animal health was a weight loss drug because people like their dogs fat.

Jon: Really?

Celine: So we look at explicitly to make sure that our drug wouldn’t cause weight loss and it doesn’t.

Jon: See, I’m the opposite. I, uh, my dogs so every night they step up on the scale. 

Celine: Really?

Jon: We do like a little swimsuit competition. No. 

Celine: I was gonna say “Jon!”

Jon: I have a, a tripod. One of the pitties is a tripod. 

Celine: Oh. 

Jon: And so we do have to manage his weight because, uh, if his, he’s got the one arm in the front, and so if he gets too heavy, it creates a real, uh, arthritic and muscular problem.

Celine: Yeah.

Jon: In his front. So that’s, that’s the only one. 

Celine: Yeah. 

Jon: Uh, to do that, but so have you, is this at the FDA, your, your drug or no?

Celine: Yeah, so we’ve been working and talking with the FDA since day one, and I think that’s actually been super, like one of the, like we didn’t-

Jon: Okay. 

Celine: – Want to get a drug approved. Like we didn’t wanna get a supplement for something that didn’t require the FDA because, because the field is so weird –

Jon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You don’t want this to be like a ginseng saying ginko below the thing that’s in the f***ing back of an apothecary. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You want, you want this to be on the up and up.

Celine: Yeah. I want it to be legit. I wanna prove the point that –

Jon: Right. 

Celine: Unhealthy aging is a disease that you can target with a drug and in of itself is worth developing medicine scans. We don’t only have to develop medicine once somebody, uh, has gotten old and frail or develops cancer, we can develop medicines that reduce cancer. 

Jon: Why do you keep talking about me? That seems like it’s very rude. [CELINE LAUGHS] So, so is the FDA, do they work with you? Like do you submit to them and then they’ll say, “oh this, change this, do this, this could help.”

Celine: Yeah, so they’re actually the, you know, there’s a lot of, you know, public opinions of the FDA, but what I’ve actually found in our experience with them is that they’re just a bunch of scientific nerds who are excited to work on interesting problems that have good science behind them. Right? Like, they’re never gonna approve something that doesn’t work, 

Jon: Right. 

Celine: But they’ve also been very, to date collaborative in helping us. I mean, cuz we’re, we’re deciding everything from the ground up. Nobody has ever asked a question of how to extend, uh, for getting a drug approved, how to extend a dog’s lifespan, how to quantify their current health state.

Jon: Right. 

Celine: How do we prove –

Jon: Yeah. What are the metrics of, of aging in a dog to begin with? So that’s even, that’s probably a difficult question.

Celine: Oh, it’s a super difficult question. 

Jon: Yeah.

Celine: It’s like, it’s, and you, it’s, it’s so hard when you’re working on problems like this because you have to – the way I always tell the team is like, you have to pick which hills to die on. Right? Like, we can’t fix everything about how you develop drugs today. So we, but –

Jon: Right. 

Celine: – we also need to get that drug developed to have the right to work on the next problem in aging. And –

Jon: So now, so you’re, you’re in a double blind study. You’re, you’re in a study right now where you’re giving this drug to a dog and now you’re testing it with – Is this, cuz don’t you have to reach certain le like the FDA has, you have to reach this level to be eligible for a double blind study or a single blind, you know, whatever it is that they’re, that they’re allowing you to go through.

Celine: Yeah, so we, we have a pilot study going on right now –

Jon: Okay.

Celine: In companion dogs, uh, which is, uh, I believe blinded to the, the pet parents. It’s not like the highest rigor because it’s more around just like learning how to run a study and making sure we’re running it correctly and manufacturing a drug. And then we have the full placebo controlled, double blinded longevity and health span study that’ll be starting next year.

Jon: And so the timeframe on, uh, when this, uh, might be available, all things going perfectly.

Celine: Perfectly?

Jon: And I’m not talking about getting – Yeah. All things going perfectly. Are we talking about this as a three to five year process? This is a five to ten year process? What, what, what kind of time span are we looking at?

Celine: Well, we’re closer than that, Jon. Uh, so if, if everything, so actually, interestingly, one of the hardest parts of all of this, so we’ve shown. What, what we believe and what we are currently working with the FDA to, to see if they also believe compelling reason, to believe that our drug will extend data to support that our drug will extend healthspans with quality of life, uh, in dogs, and therefore that’s extrapolatable to lifespan extension in dogs. The actual rate limiting thing that’s really a pain in my ass. 

Jon: Yeah. 

Celine: Is manufacturing. Uh, so I, I don’t have definitive proof of this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the reasons why the manufacturing standards for dog drugs are so damn high, uh, is because people take them too. Uh, specifically the ivermectin craze with COVID

Jon: Oh, really? 

Celine: Oh yeah. So people would take horse de wormer.

Jon: But isn’t that – that’s a different form of the drug the Ivermectin you would give on a farm is different from the Ivermectin a person would take. 

Celine: Yeah. But people were buying, so I, I have a horse and I obviously do deworm my horse regularly, And when you go to tractor supply to buy dewormer they have disclaimers saying, “do not take this.” 

Jon: Oh, I see what you’re saying. I see what you’re saying. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re right, I’ve seen this. 

Celine: Because people were taking it. 

Jon: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Celine: And so, uh, when you manufacture a drug, you have to show that each pill is the same and it has the same amount of drug in it, is at a high standard, there’s no contaminants. And that’s actually the rate limiter. 

Jon: I see.

Celine: So if we have delays, it’s most likely gonna be due to we, we’ve never, you know, built a drug – 

Jon: I see what you’re saying. They’re gonna be looking to make sure that the manufacturing standards are, and, and in the way that some like, supplement things are unregulated –

Celine: Completely unregulated.You don’t have to prove what’s in them. You know, you don’t know if you’re just getting sawdust.

Jon: Where’s, where’s the light? I’m coming out, first of all, how ironic that you’d be doing this in a lab. I mean, a lot… [CELINE LAUGHS]

Celine: We do have something called Loyal Labs and like lots of little lab puns. I mean, there’s just a lot of 

Jon: Yeah, it’s…

Celine: I don’t have a kid, but I’m definitely a bit of a dad.

Jon: Yes. No, I think I, I, I think, oh, is she up? 

Celine: Della, are you up? Come here. 

Jon: Hey friend!

Celine: This is Della. Della, hey come say hi to Jon.

Jon: Oh my God. Look at that sweetie pants. Hey friend. 

Celine: Della –

Jon: How are you doing?

Celine: Back up. Hey, can you show your tricks? Nope? Sit. 

Jon: Look at that mug. Come on. That dog is beautiful. 

Celine: She’s such a good girl. 

Jon: Yeah. 

Celine: She’s so good. 

Jon: Where’s your lab? Is it in Cal? Are you in Silicon Valley?

Celine: I’m in SF. I’m one of the last few holdouts.

Jon: Alright. I’m coming out there and getting some free samples. I’m gonna come out, I dunno if you got ’em at the front desk, I’m gonna come out in that little, whatever that little basket is. You just take one, take it back to my doggies, get this thing going. Uh, but, but it’s a fascinating story and I, I just, I wish y’all the best.

Celine: Thank you. 

Jon: Uh, and I love the idealism of it, and I really hope you don’t go to jail in three years. That’s my, that’s my concern. 

Celine: [CELINE LAUGHS] I won’t, I won’t. And I think one of the things I’m excited to show is that you can work on ambitious, crazy problems and do it in an ethical way that help, like, you know, to be clear like Loyal might not work.

Jon: You can do this without becoming a megalomaniac?

Celine: Loyal might not work. Like, you know, we, we, you can’t force a drug to work. Like, I always see it as like a definite god in biology. Right? And the truth is that it’s already predetermined whether our drugs will extend lifespan or not. We’re just trying to catch up with biology in reality.

Jon: That’s right.

Celine: But it’s important to the company and me, and the way I think about this is like we’re working on developing drugs to extend dog lifespan. We’re not working on getting one specific drug approved, and proving my thesis that I have had my entire life. 

Jon: I get it, I get it. 

Celine: Like if my big dog short lifespan, thesis doesn’t work, sucks, that’s a little bit awkward. You know, people are gonna quote this podcast, But I don’t actually care, right? 

Jon: Never.

Celine: [CELINE LAUGHS] What I care about is getting a drug approved for aging. And I think having the, those incentives built in and also having the, giving the team then permission, right? 

Jon: Right.

Celine: Because scientists are inherently honest, that’s something we’ve seen in all of these kinds of infamous crash stories. 

Jon: Right?

Celine: It’s that the management, the leadership didn’t give them permission to be honest. Um, so, – 

Jon: And there has to be honesty and, and I think that’s the right way to look at it, which is that life is just a biological puzzle we haven’t quite solved yet.

Celine: Yeah. 

Jon: And these are, and, and these are riddles and you’re working on different riddles and it’s exciting. I would think it’s –

Celine: And it doesn’t, it doesn’t help anyone if like, we’re, if the drug doesn’t extend lifespan, right. Like, it, it, it doesn’t, you know, that doesn’t, doesn’t work. 

Jon: But it’s, boy, it’s, it’s, it’s an exciting world to be in and, uh, and we thank you so much for, for spending some time with us and little Della and such a sweetie pants and uh, I just, I wish you all the best.

Celine: Thank you. I appreciate it.

Interview with Celine Halioua Ends

[TRANSITION MUSIC]

Jon: I expected her to be weirder. [ALEXA LAUGHS] like she was very like, I think I was thrown off by her lack of like, you’re like, oh, you’re just a smart person. 

Alexa: Yes, yes. 

Jon: Nice person.

Alexa: Trying new things.

Jon: Trying new things. If it works, it works. It’s great. It’s an interesting idea. We thought we’d put it through this process. Like I think I’m so conditioned now about that part of the world from like the FTX thing and from Peter Thiel and from Elon Musk, that like you just expect them to go, “I will start with dogs and I will move my way up the hierarchy of species. Man will live to be 150. His dog 120.” Like it just —

Kasaun: I can’t wait to see her Netflix documentary. 

Jon: Can I tell you something? That’s why I said the same thing. Please tell me you’re not gonna be going to jail in three years.

Alexa: I know Elizabeth Holmes, she ruined this is, you know,

Kasaun : I felt like I was – 

Jon: The FTX got like all these people, you’re like, oh, this is just a f***ing house of cards.

Kasaun: The whole, the whole time I felt like I was watching Bernie Madoff at a vision board party. I was like, wow, this is –

Jon: Am I, was I, am I? Was I Bernie in that? 

Kasaun: No, no, no. You weren’t – no. . 

Jon: Am I the vision board? 

Kasaun: You were the host. you, you were the —

Jon: I was hosting Bernie Madoff. 

Kasaun: You were the, you were hosting the vision board party and she was, I you, you kept trying to tell her, her like, please don’t go to jail. Cause –

Jon: Yeah, I wasn’t sure what the grounding principles of this were. Seemed like she had, you know, describing the science. But I also think that when you are a neuroscientist, talking to non neuroscientists, you probably choose your language carefully as to make it accessible. So I think that hesitation. I’m hoping is less grift and more, how do I put this to a little brain?

Alexa: Mm-hmm. 

Kasaun: What the, the utopia dystopia comment, uh, stood out to me. What about, uh, I’m curious, uh, what about the Silicon Valley environment scares you, uh, for her?

Jon: [ALEXA LAUGHS] Uh, the insular —

Kasaun: You did, you did turn into a dad halfway through, like, well, they’re gonna, they’re gonna do it. Please. 

Jon: That, that’s, so you’ve had a culture. Look, this is most reminiscent of the early industrial revolution, robber barons, right?

Alexa: Mm-hmm. 

Jon: Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Astor, like all those people that accumulated wealth and power beyond what any human beings that were not monarchs had ever accumulated based on things as simple as like, “What if I put f***ing steam through a cam shaft?” [LAUGHTER] “Well, what would that do? Hey, hey, what if I took a water wheel and attached it to, uh, you know what I’m saying, like a shovel?” 

Alexa: Yeah. 

Jon: You know —

Alexa: You have to innovate. 

Jon: Right? So what happens with innovation is I think they lose sight of that. They are still bound by the laws of man. So like, and Silicon Valley is, this is incredibly concentrated, it’s like innovator resin. It’s like at the bottom of that, remember that bong? And you’d have it for like a year and you never – 

Alexa: That bong? [ALEXA LAUGHS]

Jon: Well, I’m old school. And you’d clean it out with a pocket knife and then scrape that resin out like that concentrated and then you’d f***ing smoke that. Like, that’s what Silicon Valley is robber barron resin.

Alexa: Wow. 

[JON LAUGHS]

Jon: Nobody’s coming with me on this. 

Kasaun: No I’m comin, wich ya!

Jon: Come on!

Alexa: This is probably a bad time to pitch you my idea, which is a hat that you wear when you’re getting picked up at the airport that lights up.

Jon: They have those. 

Alexa: What? 

Jon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have, I mean, I would do this right now, but it would be a waste too much time. I could run downstairs and get one.

Alexa: Are you serious, 

Kasaun: Jon we, we, I, I would want nothing more than you to go get that hat right now. 

Alexa: It lights up so that people. [LAUGHS]

Jon: You guys hang in there.

Alexa: Omg. He’s doing it.

Kasaun: Are we just gonna fast forward through this part until he comes back with that? 

Alexa: I hear like clanking back there. What? [LAUGHS]

Kausaun: Yes!

Alexa: For the listeners, uh, Jon is now wearing a beanie that does in fact light up. 

Kasaun: He looks like a Jamaican coal miner. [ALEXA LAUGHS] Wow. 

Alexa: When do you wear this Jon? 

Jon: Always. No, like, so imagine you gotta go outside at night and clean up poop.

Alexa: Yeah, I get it, but my problem is when I’m at the airport. Nope. The person picking me up can’t see me. 

Kasaun: [JON & KASAUN LAUGH] Alexa is trying to invent an airport locator and you came with your poop cleaning hats.

Alexa; I know. I should be insulted. 

Jon: Not at all. 

Alexa: I’m trying to raise money for my invention.

Jon: Oh wait, hold on. I’m at the airport right now and I need a ride. Beep.

Alexa: All right. That would, I mean, I, okay.

Jon: Uh, everyone, uh, what a wonderful post Thanksgiving program. I wanna thank Celine Halioua for joining us. I wanna thank Kasaun and Alexa for their intelligence, for their wit and for their inventions, uh, they should check out The Problem, airing, right now on Apple TV Plus there, uh, that’s when we’re going. And by the way, speaking of the show, this is an update on the Afghan episode. I dunno if you remember the Afghan translators that have been trapped over there. The allies that we promised to never leave behind and then promptly left behind. Uh, one of the people that we spoke to on the program, Mosa, I don’t know if you remember Mosa, obviously not his real name, but we spoke to him, uh, on the program live, uh, from Afghanistan. We received word from the State Department that he can complete his visa to the US now that he and his family escaped Afghanistan. They escaped Afghanistan. Uh, they will complete, I think, their visas at the US Embassy in Pakistan and then have their interview this week and hopefully continue their journey to the United States after that. So that is, uh, a little bit of good news in a sea of nonsense. And, uh, so we’re thrilled for, uh, Mosa and his family and hopefully God speed to them and they, and they get here. Uh, thanks again everybody, and we will see you next week.

Kay: All right Jon, later.

Alexa: Ta- ta

[OUTRO MUSIC]

Jon: “The Problem with Jon Stewart Podcast” is an Apple TV+ podcast and a joint Busboy Production.

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