#024: March 23, 2021 - Longevity Marketcap Telemetry

BioAge 2nd Clinical Trial. VitaDAO Fund. The SpaceX of Aging.

Longevity Marketcap Telemetry (March 23nd, 2021)

  1. Last Week in Longevity

  2. Longevity Futures

  3. Capital Raise Radar

  4. Longevity Jobs

  5. Tweet of the Week

*Disclaimer: None of this should be taken as financial advice. It is for educational purposes only.

**Resources: Longevity Clinical Trial Tracker // Longevity Industry Database. If you are a longevity company, investor, VC firm, fund, non-profit, and want to be added to the database please email me. It’s free.

***Fundraising If you know of anything that indicates longevity companies that are currently looking for funding please email me. I will add them to the “Fundraising Radar” section of the newsletter and database. It’s free.

**** Hiring? Email me the links to your job postings and I will put them on LongevityList.com (and select jobs in this newsletter). It’s free.

📢 Announcements 

  • The 1% Bet for Longevity-- a website initiative. Building on my newsletter last week and a suggestion from one of my readers, Matthew Busel, I have launched the 1% Bet for Longevity. The initiative seeks to convince as many people as possible to publicly promise to commit at least 1% of their net worth towards funding longevity biotechnology companies or research. Longevity biotechnology holds the potential for incredible upside. And yet despite this much less than 1% of the $400T total global wealth has been directed towards longevity.

    I want to change this --and I am going to start by leading by example. You can stand up for longevity too by going to the website onepercentbet.org and submitting your name on the form. Your name will be added to the public list of signatories after moderation.

    Isn’t more life worth more betting on? Spread the word.

  • PS: I have a Patreon account. My mission is to grow a wave of passionate people building, funding, and championing technologies that extend healthy human lifespan. If you believe in me, my work, and my mission please consider supporting.

📝 Last Week in Longevity

  • BioAge announces the launch of their 2nd clinical trial --reversing immune system aging in COVID-19 patients. AI/ML drug discovery startup BioAge has officially begun its trial of BGE-175 for COVID-19 patients over the age of 60. BGE-175 is a small molecule antagonist of the prostaglandin D2 DP1 receptor, which regulates immune function. BGE-175 is a drug licensed from Shionogi, a Japanese pharma company. Top-line data from the trial is expected in 2021. (Link to trial details)

    BioAge is Kristen Fortney’s AI/ML longevity drug discovery startup. It’s also one of the most promising longevity companies (backed by a16z, Elad Gil, etc). Their technology involves using computational techniques to mine a proprietary biobank for markers of aging, which can then be targeted by using repurposed drugs. 

    A success here would be incredible for aging therapeutics, AI/ML drug discovery, and the pandemic. Last month, BioAge announced their first clinical trial (BGE-117) to treat unexplained adult anemia by activating the hypoxia-inducible factor.  

  • Retrotope commences Phase 2 trial for ALS. Retrotope will be testing their deuterated polyunsaturated fatty acid (RT001) to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spine, resulting in loss of muscle control. The disease has been linked to the peroxidation of polyunsaturated lipids.

    RT001 is linoleic acid but with two key hydrogen atoms replaced with deuterium -- a heavy isotope of hydrogen. This modification allows the fatty acid to impede the peroxidation chain reaction process that occurs in the mitochondria, a potential source of aging damage. (Read more about Retrotope and other mitochondria longevity companies in my previous newsletter.)

  • VitaDAO launches a decentralized longevity fund. Newly formed VitaDAO is a decentralized longevity biotech fund built on the Ethereum blockchain/ Ocean protocol. This DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) will fund longevity research and commercialization and share in the ownership of the generated intellectual property. Users gain ownership and governance rights of VitaDAO by purchasing or earning VITA tokens. (White paper here)

    VitaDAO is a project spearheaded by Molecule, a funding marketplace for biotech research founded by Tyler Golato and Paul Kolhaas. Partners also include Morten Scheibye-Knudsen, an aging biology researcher at the University of Copenhagen. For those interested in contributing to the project you can join their Telegram or Discord channel.

  • CELLINK acquires MatTek for $68M. CELLINK, the $2.3B USD Swedish bioprinting company, announced the acquisition of MatTek, a human tissue in-vitro drug testing platform. With the acquisition, CELLINK aims to further develop animal-free drug testing platforms. CELLINK is the biggest financial success story in 3D bioprinting ever since the rise and unfortunate decline of Organovo (stock down ~95% from its bubble peak in 2013). CELLINK is also a partner with Volumetric (Jordan Miller’s 3D bioprinting startup) for their Lumen X digital light processing 3D bioprinter.

  • Derek Lowe / Andreas Bender on AI/ML drug discovery. Derek Lowe’s commentary discussing AI/ML drug discovery as reviewed by Andreas Bender in a recent paper. Lowe concludes that while AI/ML drug discovery might reduce costs and increase speeds in the preclinical phase, the most important metric to measure is a reduction in clinical trial failure rates. Here is where AI is having a limited impact -- so far. Even if AI could perfectly predict how a drug behaves in a mouse that information does not translate well to humans. We desperately need better preclinical models. Marmosets, anyone?

    Also worth looking at the Twitter thread of the topic made by Lucas Siow of Proteinqure for a bit of an opposing view.

📅 Longevity Futures

Know of any interesting longevity talks, meetings, or events? Please email me.

📡 Capital Raise Radar

We do not endorse or have affiliations with any of the companies listed below. This is not an offer to buy or sell securities. This is for informational purposes only. If you have intel on any other longevity companies currently raising please email me.

  • Ponce de Leon Health // Raising $15M // Article

    • Makers of Rejuvant Life Tabs, a calcium alpha-ketoglutarate supplement (CaAKG). Alpha-ketoglutarate is a key molecule in the Krebs cycle. Brian Kennedy (former head of Buck Institute, now at the National University of Singapore) is the CSO of this company.  

    • CaAKG supplementation reduces frailty and extends maximal lifespan of female mice by 20%. (Shahmirzhadi et al 2020)

    • Currently “soft-closed” $5.5 M for their Series B. Looking to raise up to $15 M total.

  • Revivo Therapeutics// Raising: $5M // Slide Deck

    • Small molecule drugs that enhance cognition and reduce neuron excitability to treat neurodegenerative and CNS conditions (including anxiety and depression). 

    • Targets the nitric oxide and CREB pathways. 

    • Same team that built Cardioxyl ($2B exit to Bristol Myers Squib)

  • Equator Therapeutics// Raising: $3M - $5M // Slide Deck

    • Mitochondrial uncoupler drug to burn fat through natural body heat production.

    • Targeting obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, PCOS. 

    • Pro longevity: Exercise mimetic, increases mitochondria biogenesis, etc

  • + see all (click on “Fundraising Radar”)

Featured Longevity Jobs

Looking for jobs, companies, or investors in the longevity biotechnology industry? Check out my website LongevityList.com.

If you are hiring email me a link to your job postings and I will post them on longevitylist.com (it’s free).

Tweet of the Week: The SpaceX of Aging

Before being crowned the Technoking of Dogecoin, Elon set out to colonize Mars not by building a reusable rocket company. Instead, his initial plan was to launch a green plant to the martian surface as a marketing stunt. It was a play to garner public support and government funding for a future manned Mars mission. 

Elon believed that the problem of Mars was one of perception and social coordination. (Of course, this actually turned out to be incorrect.1) If only people could see the vision of Mars colonization they might believe it and fund it.

A similar situation of perception presents itself in longevity biotechnology. Like Mars, there is some pushback on whether defeating aging is a good use of money. Indeed much less than 1% of global wealth is directed towards longevity. But more importantly, it is currently difficult for the public to visualize what defeating aging would look like. Thus they believe longevity and age reversal to be impossible.

So how does one approach this problem of perception in longevity? 

One way is to solve a smaller more tractable version of the question. Solve “Q-prime” instead of “Q”, as Scott Aaronson would say. This is good advice for life in general (and math contests).

That’s where Loyal and other companies in the companion animal space come in. (Animal Biosciences, Rejuvenate Bio, etc) 

These companies are not trying to solve aging in humans (not initially). Instead, they are working to extend lifespan in dogs (and perhaps horses) as an easier version of the problem. Testing drugs in animals is cheaper and the regulatory path is faster. This means faster iteration. Pets also share our living environment -- an added bonus.

But most importantly pets are quasi-family. The emotional upside to extending the healthy lifespan of our animal companions will be visceral. And if technologies can modulate biological aging in dogs why couldn’t the same be done in humans? A successful anti-aging therapy in dogs would plant a seed in the public mind. A seed that would grow into an unstoppable force, pushing humanity forwards towards realizing the inevitable future of medicine: Rejuvenation. The end of aging and all its diseases. 

Whichever company can spark this revolution (whether in dogs or through a limited aspect of human aging) -- be the zero to one --will be the defining aging company of our times in my opinion. And the more ambitious people we can cultivate and support to undertake this mission, the faster we can usher in the beautiful, beautiful future.

-NATHAN

1

Devil’s advocate: This calls into question whether we need more people to work on longevity or whether we need to just concentrate capital on a few extremely competent individuals. Rebuttal: Biotech is a numbers game (currently) so “spray and pray” feels like the best approach — meaning we need more founders. It is also likely that many combined therapies will be required to fully address aging.