Kiwi Laura Deming is spearheading Silicon Valley's quest for eternal youth.

Inspired by her ageing grandmother, the 25-year-old has dedicated her career to finding ways to increase the human lifespan.

"Most people think of the body as something that breaks down over time and is unfixable, similar to a car rusting," she told the Daily Mail.

By 14 she was studying at MIT, and by 16 she had founded her first venture capital firm. Photo / Getty Images
By 14 she was studying at MIT, and by 16 she had founded her first venture capital firm. Photo / Getty Images

"But there are some cars that have been around since 1910 because people are maintaining them and replacing the parts. Our goal, eventually, is to be able to do that with the human body."

Advertisement

She's now leading her own $39m Longevity Fund that supports entrepreneurs developing therapies for age-related diseases.

Born in New Zealand, Deming was home-schooled by her parents but as a child taught herself calculus, probability and statistics as well as French literature and history.

Laura who was born in New Zealand in 1994, says her interest in life expectancy was sparked by her maternal grandmother Bertie. Photo / Getty Images
Laura who was born in New Zealand in 1994, says her interest in life expectancy was sparked by her maternal grandmother Bertie. Photo / Getty Images

After her grandmother Bertie developed neuro-muscular problems in her 70s and 80s, she decided to dedicate her life to combating the ageing process.

At just 14, she was offered a place at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was offered $100,000 by billionaire Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal, to get started on her research.

By age 16 she had founded her first venture capital firm that invests in life-extension technology. While she admits she wasn't taken seriously at first, she's since raised millions of dollars from investors.

She now conducts research on the worm species Caenorhabditis elegans which have similiar evolutionary genes to humans.

"You can genetically change their core DNA and double their lifespan or even increase it 10-fold. It suggests there are pathways to regulate ageing and if there are pathways, there are proteins and that means you can eventually develop drugs," Deming told the Daily Mail.

While a "cure" to ageing is still a long way off, Deming says there may already be some drugs on the market that can help with anti-ageing.

Advertisement

Metaformin, which is taken by millions of people with Type 2 diabetes is now thought to also help with cognitive function as well as giving protection against Alzheimer's, cancer and heart disease.

Deming says trials of immune function drug rapamycin are also underway with hundreds of elderly patients in the US.

"We know rapamycin makes mice live 10 to 14 per cent longer than normal and it appears to be making these patients healthier and improve their immune system function later in life so that's hopeful," she says.

"Ageing without illness - that's the goal. What we want is to be able to give everyone in the world the ability to choose how long they want to live."