#027: April 13th, 2021 - Longevity Marketcap Telemetry
Gerostate Alpha open investment. Foresight Institute Accelerator. Measuring Progress.
Capital Raise Radar
Last Week in Longevity
New Companies on Longevity List
*Disclaimer: None of this should be taken as financial advice. It is for educational purposes only.
Mission: To grow a wave of passionate people building, funding, and championing technologies that extend healthy human lifespan.
Every Friday @ 12PM - 5PM EDT. Longevity Virtual Coworking. If you are working on longevity or thinking about getting into the longevity industry, please join me for an experimental virtual longevity coworking space using the Pluto.Video web app. (Sign in with Google account. No sign-up required.)
Bring something to work on.
Feel free to ask questions.
Help out. Connect.
I plan on holding this weekly. It’s free. (Room Link)
The 1% Bet for Longevity-- a website initiative.29 people have now signed up for the 1% Bet for Longevity Pledge. My goal is to get to 50,000 people and at least 100 companies to pledge 1% of their resources towards funding longevity companies and research by end of the year.
📡 Capital Raise Radar
I 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. It’s free.
High-throughput phenotypic screen platform to discover anti-aging drugs.
Team includes academics from the Buck Institute: Simon Melov, Mark Lucanic, Gordon Lithgow.
Crowdfunding on WeFunder. Open to all investors, even retail.
Already raised $2.1M on a $15M valuation.
Senolytic gene therapy using a lipid-protein nanoparticle delivery vehicle. Kills cells that express the p16 gene -- a marker of senescent cells. Inducible apoptosis gene with a p16 promoter triggered by a chemical dimerizer.
Team: Matthew Scholz (Immusoft), Gary Hudson.
Seed round. Accredited investors only. $50K minimum check size.
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 maximum 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.
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)
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 mitochondrial biogenesis, etc
Y Combinator backed company.
Team: Jonah Sinick, Yuriy Kirichok, Michael Grabe, Liliya Gabelev, David Segura
+ see all (click on “Capital Raise Radar”)
📝 Last Week in Longevity
Gerostate Alpha capital raise through crowdfunding. A longevity biotech startup anyone can invest in. Gerostate Alpha is an early-stage longevity biotech spinout from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Starting this week, the company will be raising capital through crowdfunding on the WeFunder platform. This means you don’t need to be an accredited investor to invest in this longevity startup -- it is open to everyone. The crowdfunding round officially begins on Wednesday, April 14th, 2021. Gerostate has already raised $2.1M at a valuation of $15M, including a notable $1M check from Y Combinator.
Gerostate Alpha is developing an anti-aging drug discovery platform based on a high-throughput phenotypic screen with model organisms. Basically, they test many different compounds on worms and mice and see how it affects their lifespan or function. This is in contrast to typical aging drug development based on targeting some specific putative mechanism of aging (usually one of the hallmarks of aging). By leveraging resources at the Buck Institute -- where the founders are currently researchers and where the company is being incubated --Gerostate believes they can find new longevity drugs in a capital-efficient manner.
The company has tested ~60,000 compounds and identified ~30 drugs that slow aging in model organisms. In particular, they believe they have a promising candidate that slows down bone aging in mice.
As I had written in my newsletter two weeks ago, I fully expected the new $5M / year SEC rules on crowdfunding to allow a new generation of early-stage longevity biotech founders to quickly raise capital. Gerostate Alpha is the first and it remains to be seen how much they will be able to raise here. But I am optimistic about the democratization of longevity startup investing.
You can check out Gerostate’s pitch at Unicorn Lab here: (Video) and WeFunder page here: (WeFunder).
Longhack Longevity Hackathon Launch. Organized by Dima Syrotkinand Ekaterina Melnichikhina, Longhack is a three-day competition to create longevity accelerating ideas from biotech, pharma, wellness, and advocacy. The online event is scheduled for September 24 - 26, 2021.
BioAge partnership with HitGen for compound libraries. BioAgeis an a16z-backed company that leverages their AI/ML drug discovery platform + proprietary biobank data to find drugs that modulate aging. Last week the company announced they were partnering with HitGen to obtain access to their compound libraries. HitGen is a Chinese company that uses DNA-encoded chemical library (DEL) technology to generate large sets of novel molecules.
This partnership represents a new shift in BioAge’s strategy. Previously, they had been focusing on in-licensing and repurposing drugs from other companies, which allowed BioAge to directly initiate two Phase 2 trials this year (BGE-175 for Covid19 in the elderly and BGE-117 for unexplained adult anemia). Leveraging large novel compound libraries increases the search space for optimal drugs but at the cost of more clinical trials.
Foresight Institute Health Extension Accelerator. Do you have a longevity startup idea? The Foresight Institute is teaming up with Sonia Arrison’s 100 Plus Capital to provide mentorship, expertise, and financing for companies developing solutions to extend healthspan. The accelerator will also be holding online seminars by a star-studded cast of industry and academic experts in the longevity field over the course of this year. You can also donate to participate in the seminars.
Newsweek and Wallstreet Journal highlight longevity biotech. The longevity biotechnology revolution garnered mainstream press with articles published in The Wallstreet Journal and Newsweek last week.
The WSJ article, written by Andrew Steele (author of Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old) argued for treating aging as a strategy to extend health and prevent major disease. This kind of framing needs to percolate through the public consciousness.
The Newsweek article focussed on young blood parabiosis approaches for rejuvenation and treatment of aging. But their editors, unfortunately, could not resist making the clickbait association of young blood with Silicon Valley on the cover. The desire for rejuvenation should be as commonplace as the desire for a cure for cancer or for good health. And good health is not a uniquely Silicon Valley desire.
Ironically, the Newsweek article focussed heavily on Alkahest, a company that has no ties to Silicon Valley. Alkahest was initially founded by a Stanford professor and financed by a rich Hong Kong family along with the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Demonpore64 raising capital through crowdfunding. An interesting and ambitious startup that aims to decode biology by selling cell and molecule sensor “gaming consoles”. A bit light on details that they are unable to reveal, but the project has been endorsed by George Church and Aubrey de Grey. From what I can guess, it looks like a distributed search through combinations of reagents x molecules x cells that will trigger an electrical signal in a pore sensor.
📅 Longevity Futures
Join us for a conversation with the team at Yuva Biosciences, a biotech company targeting aging through a mitochondrial drug discovery platform. We will discuss their entire entrepreneurial journey from founder Keshav’s Singh’s scientific discovery at the University of Alabama to building the company and raising capital.
Stick around at the end of each show for a casual “after-party” longevity biotech chat/networking.
Sign up for reminders via Google Calendar. Click this link for email reminders for all future Longevity Biotech Show events.
We now have an official Longevity Biotech Show Website. Stay informed on upcoming events and get access to previous show recordings/show notes (coming soon).
April 14, 2021 @ 5PM EDT. Saul Villeda -- Simons Foundation Event. “Can Aging be Reversed in the Brain” talk given by Saul Villeda, professor at UCSF.
April 27th, 2021 @ 7AM PDT. Rejuveron Aging Symposium. A full-day event put on by Rejuveron, a Swiss longevity investment group. Speakers from industry and academia including Andrew Scott, Lynne Cox, Aubrey de Grey, Christian Angermayer, Manuel Serrano, and Lee Rubin.
May 4th - May 7th, 2021. Longevity Leaders Online Conference. An industry and academia conference with networking events. Basic passes are free but access to premium online events is paid. Early bird discounts are also available. A great lineup of speakers: Aubrey de Grey, Nir Barzilai, Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, Sergey Young, Ronjon Nag, representatives from Alkahest, Stealth BioTherapeutics, Navitor, and many more.
Wednesday, May 12th, 2021 @ 11AM EDT. Aubrey de Grey and S. Jay Olshansky Longevity Webinar - Healthspan Show. Free online talk. Aubrey de Grey is the founder of SENS Research Foundation and Jay Olshansky is a professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Summer Aging Seminars at Loyal. Celine Halioua, the founder of dog life-extension startup Loyal, is putting on aging science seminars this summer at their headquarters in San Francisco. Register to join.
Know of any interesting longevity talks, meetings, or events? Please email me.
✨ Featured Longevity Jobs
Looking for jobs, companies, or investors in the longevity biotechnology industry? Check out my website LongevityList.com.
Medical Analyst for Rejuvenation Therapies // Forever Healthy // Karlsruhe, Germany or Remote
Analyst for Functional and Preventive Medicine // Forever Healthy // Karlsruhe, Germany or Remote
Scientific Spokesperson // Forever Healthy // Karlsruhe, Germany or Remote
Head of Global Communications // Forever Healthy // Karlsruhe, Germany or Remote
Head of Consumer // Loyal // San Francisco, Remote
Computational Bio Internship // Loyal // San Francisco? / Remote?
Epigenetics / Reprogramming Post doc// Morgan Levine Lab (Yale) // Yale
Chief Scientific Officer // Maximon // Zug, Switzerland
SPAC Investment Professional // Maximon // Zug, Switzerland
Associate Director/Director of In Vivo Biology/Pharmacology// BioAge Labs // Richmond, CA, USA
+ more longevity jobs
➕ New Companies on Longevity List
Cellino: A company developing AI-guided laser editing of stem cells. One of the biggest challenges to scaling up stem cell therapies is the bottleneck of manual removal of bad cells. Cellino’s core founder, Nabiha Saklayen, developed nanosecond laser technology during her PhD that enables targeted removal of cells and delivery of cellular cargoes. Cellino plans to use this tech to develop regenerative medicine cell therapies (such as dopaminergic neurons to treat Parkinson’s disease) using autologous stem cells (including iPSCs or banked stem cells). The company is backed by 8VC and Khosla Ventures.
Juvena Therapeutics: High-throughput computer vision screening of stem cells to identify proteins that enhance stem cell activity and regeneration. Their pipeline includes treatments for muscular dystrophy, sarcopenia, and osteoarthritis.
Oncolife Therapeutics: An early-stage Australian oncology/longevity biotech company. Oncolife develops drugs that modulate stem cell activity for cancer (inhibit stem cells) and aging (activate stem cells). Like many other senolytics companies that can target cancer, Oncolife highlights that cellular aging and cancer can be thought of as two sides of the same coin.
Ending Aging was published in 2007.
The program that Aubrey de Grey set forth in his book seemed straightforward: Address all the seven categories of aging damage and we can say goodbye to biological aging forever.
14 years later what can we say about progress in the field of longevity?
Some may say we are no closer to the goal of ending aging now than in 2007. While it is true that we still have zero therapies approved for aging in humans today1, we absolutely have made significant progress. The longevity landscape in 2021 looks completely different than when Aubrey wrote his book in 2007.
Here is a list of things that did not exist in the longevity industry in 2007 but exist today:
Knowledge and Trials that didn’t exist in 2007
A significant number of therapies developed in the context of aging biology are being trialed in human patients today. This is by far the most obvious indicator of progress. Today there are ~45 therapies developed with the purpose of modulating biological aging being tested in humans. In 2007 there was perhaps a handful of trials2. More important is the diversity of the approaches being attempted.
Proof that a simple drug can significantly extend the lifespan of a mammal. Rapamycin’s ~20% extension of lifespan in mice was only discovered in 2009. The result is reproducible and was an important proof of concept.
Birth of the entire senolytics industry. The demonstration of reversal of aging phenotypes and increase in median lifespan in mice by killing naturally-occurring senescent cells happened in 20163. This set off a massive wave of new senolytics startups.
General acceptance of damage repair categories for treating aging. When Aubrey first published his book this idea was not the mainstream. The Hallmarks of Aging paper / citation-love-fest was published in 2013 and more or less mainstreamed the categories. Note: The Hallmarks of Aging or SENS categories might not be the final say either. There could be other approaches.
Epigenetic clocks. Steve Horvath discovered the DNA methylation clock in 2013. The consequence of this discovery for aging remains to be seen. But if epigenetic clocks really do measure aging then we might already have a combination therapy that reverses aging (Fahy, TRIIM trial)
Industry and Tech that didn’t exist in 2007
100+ longevity companies and startups. In 2007 there were only a handful of longevity companies.
Several longevity-focussed venture capital and investment firms. The Longevity Fund, Apollo Health Ventures, Juvensescnece, Longevity Vision Fund, Cambrian Biopharma -- none of these existed in 2007. Serious money is flowing into this space. And more is on the way. In 2007 there were zero venture capital firms focussed exclusively on longevity.
Brand name investors piling into longevity biotechnology. Peter Thiel, Jeff Bezos, a16z, Khosla, ARCH Venture Partners, etc.
Many prominent biologists coming out in favour of stopping or reversing aging (Craig Venter, George Church, Art Levinson)
AI / Machine Learning being seriously applied to drug discovery. And a whole slew of “digital biology” startups.
Whole-genome sequencing that DOESN’T cost $10 million dollars. Today whole-genome sequencing costs a couple of hundred dollars at most — and getting cheaper. Sequencing was nearly 100,000 times more expensive in 2007. Sequencing is the new microscope.
Google investing billions in aging research (Calico). Say what you will about their secretive ways and relatively few trials, but Calico is still by far the biggest single investment in the space. The fact that Abbvie partnered with them also added legitimacy to the industry.
PhD programs specifically in Aging Biology.
Nature Aging. A coming of age of the study of biological aging. The first issue was published in 2021.
We haven’t failed enough.
Fundamentally success should be measured by the number of effective longevity therapies currently available to people. In the absence of such, a proxy of progress could be the number of different kinds of unsuccessful longevity clinical trials completed. The thinking here is that we don’t know what will work but given enough varied attempts something eventually will.
There have been several failures in longevity already. And as painful as they were the reality is in order to succeed in aging therapeutics, we will likely need even more failures. Remember that ~90% of drugs fail in clinical trials.
The only way we can generate more attempts is to recruit more founders, investors, and advocates who are passionate about the promise of rejuvenation and its potential to rid the world of the suffering caused by biological aging and age-related disease. The keyword here, passion, does not refer merely to enthusiasm or love. Actually, the word passion comes from the Latin word for pain.
And in a way, this is what we need in longevity.
Founders who can endure the pain of setbacks and rejection.
Investors who can endure the pain of implosions of their investments.
Advocates who can endure the pain of ridicule or loneliness as an early proponent.
So if any of that sounds like you and you haven’t already gotten involved in longevity, consider reaching out to people in the longevity community and do something about aging today.
Some of my projects, resources, and ways to support my mission. More projects coming…
Longevity List - Find jobs, companies, and investors in the longevity industry. Email me if you want to add your job or company to the list. It’s free.
Longevity List Database- A handy Airtable base covering people, companies, trials, academic labs, and a list of longevity companies that are presently raising capital.
LMC Clinical Trial Tracker- Longevity therapeutics in clinical trials. Completion calendar useful for investors who want to time data readout catalysts.
LongevityMarketcap.com- The main page tracks prices of publicly traded longevity stocks.
Longevity Biotech Show - Official website. We interview the people building, funding, and championing technologies that extend healthy human lifespan. On Clubhouse / podcasts.
The 1% Percent Bet for Longevity Pledge - An initiative to get individuals and corporations to pledge at least 1% of their resources to fund longevity companies and research.
Patreon - For people who want to support my work and mission. Premium tiers include access to my private Telegram group for behind-the-scenes thoughts and network.
Twitter- Random thoughts and link shares. My DMs are open.
Mice, on the other hand, are living in a golden age of life extension.
Alteon’s crosslink degrading drug. Some early stem cell therapies as well.
Unity Biotechnology was formed in 2011, in anticipation of these results.