#033: May 27th, 2021 - Longevity Marketcap Telemetry
Oisin and Loyal seed rounds. HAYA stealth. How to start a longevity biotech company.
Last Week in Longevity
Capital Raise Radar
New Companies on Longevity List
How to Start a Longevity Biotech Company
*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.
forum.longevitybase.org - A “StackExchange / Quora” for aging biology / longevity biotech. In open beta right now. Feel free to sign up and try it out. Email me if you would like to become a moderator or if you have some suggestions.
The Longevity Biotech Show is officially a podcast! Check us out on Spotify and also Apple Podcasts.
Longevity Virtual Coworking. Every Friday. Drop in hours: 12PM - 5PM EDT. 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. (No sign-up required.) (Room Link)
The 1% Bet for Longevity-- a website initiative.39 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 the end of the year.
Humans For Longevity. A project featuring a collection of stories from people who care about longevity and their motivations.
📝 Last Week in Longevity
Oisin Biotechnologies raises $5M seed round. Oisin Biotechnologies is a preclinical-stage gene therapy longevity company founded by Matt Scholz and Gary Hudson. This week the company announced the completion of a $5M oversubscribed seed round led by Althea Capital LLC. The company plans to use the capital to advance its preclinical studies, with results in chronic kidney disease coming later this year.
Oisin’s lead program is a senolytic gene therapy for chronic kidney disease. In preclinical studies, the company’s therapy was able to reduce senescent cell burden in naturally aged mice and also extend lifespan by 20 percent. On The Longevity Biotech Show podcast two weeks ago, Matt Scholz stated that Oisin was planning to enter the clinic in 18 months.
Oisin’s technology uses a unique neutrally charged proteo-lipid nanoparticle for gene delivery, which allows for broad biodistribution and repeated dosing -- something that is difficult with the more common charged nanoparticle vehicles or viral vectors. A general gene therapy delivery platform that can express genes in a targeted and reliable manner would be an incredible development for longevity therapeutics with applications beyond just senolytics. Scholz has previously stated his intentions to grow Oisin Biotechnologies into the“Pfizer of aging”.
Loyal announces $11M seed round. Loyal is a startup founded by Celine Halioua that is developing anti-aging therapies by first focussing on extending lifespan in dogs. In a profile article written by Ashley Vance (Elon Musk’s biographer) in Bloomberg, Celine Halioua revealed that the company had raised an $11M seed round is planning to enter the clinic (for dogs) in 2022.
Loyal is one of the most exciting longevity startups in the industry due in part to their clever canine-first approach. But despite all the building in public Celine Halioua does on Twitter and her blog, the company remains very stealthy in regards to their target and modality. Considering their plan involves going from dogs to humans, the target is likely a conserved pathway (mTOR? IGF?).
HAYA Therapeutics comes out of stealth with $20M in seed funding. HAYA Therapeutics is a Swiss-based biotech company that is developing antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) therapies that target long non-coding RNAs (lncRNA) to inhibit fibrosis. The company raised $20M from Apollo Health Ventures, BERNINA BioInvest, 4See Ventures, Schroder Adveq, and Viva BioInnovator.
HAYA Therapeutics was founded by Samir Ounzain, a post-doctoral researcher at Lausanne University Hospital. The company is based on Ounzain’s work on Wisper, a long non-coding RNA that is linked to fibrosis after heart injury. Ounzain showed that an antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) that silenced Wisper could attenuate myocardial infarction-induced fibrosis in the heart and improve cardiac function. HAYA is planning to enter the clinic in 2 - 3 years, with hypertrophic myopathy as their first indication. The company plans to target a number of fibrotic diseases in the future.
80%+ of the human genome is made of non-coding regions (i.e sequences that don’t translate into proteins). Some of the long sequences of DNA in the non-coding regions (lncRNA) are believed to play a role in gene transcription, post-translational regulation, and epigenetic regulation, and other processes. Many of these lncRNAs are implicated in aging and inflammation.
GenSight Biologics optogenetics therapy enables vision in a patient with retinitis pigmentosa. GenSight Biologics is a French gene therapy company that focuses on diseases of blindness. Last week the company published results in Nature Medicine demonstrating an optogenetic therapy that enabled partial vision in a single patient with retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease that causes loss of vision due to deterioration of photoreceptors.
GenSight’s therapy (GS030) inserts a bacterial gene that encodes a light-sensitive protein into retinal ganglion cells. In order to properly activate these pseudo-photoreceptors, the patient must wear biomimetic goggles that amplify the light in a specific frequency range.
GenSight’s therapy (GS030) is also being developed for patients with dry age-related macular degeneration. GenSight also has a gene therapy that treats a rare mitochondrial disease of blindness (LHON) through the allotopic expression of mtDNA in the nucleus -- one of the proposed main methods of damage repair in Ending Aging.
Google launches a semantic search engine for biomedical research. This is not directly related to longevity but I feel like everyone should know that this amazing tool exists.
📅 Longevity Futures
Join us for a conversation with Marinna Madrid, co-founder of Cellino, a laser-editing stem cell company.
Clubhouse app is now on Android.
Sign up for reminders via Google Calendar. Click this link for email reminders for all future Longevity Biotech Show events.
Friday, May 28th, 2021 @ 8AM PT / 11AM ET. Sergey Young (Longevity Vision Fund) and David Sinclair (Life Biosciences, Harvard Medical School, Lifespan book) live AMA.
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.
July 20th - 23rd, 2021. American Aging Association Annual Meeting / Conference. Speakers include Andrew Brack (UCSF, Arrive Bio), Morgan Levine, Vadim Gladyshev, Luigi Ferrucci.
August 31st, 2021 - September 3, 2021. Aging Research and Drug Discovery Conference 2021.Online. $49 for a 3-day pass. The first day of the conference is free to attend. An incredible lineup of speakers including David Sinclair, Alex Zhavoronkov, Thomas Rando, Peter de Keizer, Collin Ewald, Kristen Fortney, Nir Barzilai, Brian Kennedy, Manuel Serrano, Vera Gorbunova, and many others.
Know of any interesting longevity talks, meetings, or events? Please email me.
📡 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.
Rubedo Life Sciences // Series A // mentioned on The Longevity Biotech Show
Raising Series A in the very near future.
Developing a drug discovery platform first focussing on prodrugs to target senescent cells in a selective manner.
Team: Marco Quarta (Stanford), Julian Klein, Marc Gallop
Developing compounds that target mitochondrial dysfunction to reverse aging. Includes natural compound cosmeceutical for skin aging and hair loss. Also developing pharmaceuticals for prostate / ovarian conditions.
Team: Keshav Singh (University of Alabama), Greg Schmergel (Nantero)
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.
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”)
✨ Featured Longevity Jobs
Looking for jobs, companies, or investors in the longevity biotechnology industry? Check out my website LongevityList.com.
Research Associate, Scientist- Boominathan Lab // SENS Research Foundation // Mountain View, California
Postdoctoral Research Fellow // SENS Research Foundation // Mountain View, California
Research Associate // SENS Research Foundation // Mountain View, California
C elegans Research Scientist// Magnitude Biosciences // Durham, England
Research Associate Immunonology // SENS Research Foundation // Mountain View, California
Senior Scientist - Applications// Turn Bio // Mountain View, California
Senior Scientist - Technology // Turn Bio // Mountain View, California
Senior Scientist/Director - Chemist // Turn Bio // Mountain View, California
Senior Scientist/Director - Formulation // Turn Bio // Mountain View, California
Engineering Intern // Cellvie // Matzingen, Switzerland
Senior Scientist, Biochemist // Cellvie // Matzingen, Switzerland
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 Postdoc// Morgan Levine Lab (Yale) // Yale
SPAC Investment Professional // Maximon // Zug, Switzerland
Associate Director/Director of In Vivo Biology/Pharmacology// BioAge Labs // Richmond, CA, USA
+ more longevity jobs
If you are hiring, email me a link to your job postings and I will post them on longevitylist.com (it’s free).
➕ New Companies on Longevity List
Longevity Biotech: A company that develops orally available peptides to treat Parkinson’s (targeting VPAC2 receptor to prevent neurotoxicity) and diabetes.
How to start a longevity biotech company
The amount of capital available in the longevity biotechnology sector is about to dramatically increase. Minting more longevity founders is and will continue to be the main bottleneck to accelerating progress. How do we solve this problem?
Well, there are two ways to increase the number of founders in longevity:
Increase the number of people who are aware that the longevity biotech industry even exists.
Convince more people that are already aware of the longevity biotech industry to become founders.
The awareness campaign is something that anyone can work on. Longevity books, podcasts, blogs, tweets, newsletters, talks, YouTube videos, social media posts, etc all contribute to the overall effort. Create more of these. If you cannot create, then share.
The second point, convincing more people to become founders, is a trickier endeavor. Startups are risky and often demoralizing. Biotech can be expensive.
There may also be some misconceptions about longevity biotech startups that could be holding people back from starting their own companies.
Let’s clear up some myths about longevity biotech startup formation:
You need a Ph.D. to become a longevity biotech founder. This is false. While a large fraction of biotech founders have PhDs, it is not strictly necessary. Tony Kulesa of Petri Bio talks about how founders without PhDs can get into biotech by just volunteering in a lab (Eric Lander, who did not have a biology Ph.D., did this). One of the most prominent founders in longevity, Celine Halioua, for instance, does not have a Ph.D -- though she has some Ph.D. training.
You need formal training in biology to be a longevity biotech founder. This is empirically false. Many of the most promising longevity companies were founded by people without biology degrees. Matt Scholz of Oisin Biotechnologies, Ben Kamens of Spring Discovery, and Reason of Repair Biotechnologies are three prominent examples (all coming from computer science). The most visible figurehead of the industry, Aubrey de Grey, also had no formal biology training (also coming from computer science). Virtually every topic in biology can be learned online for free (Edx, Coursera, Khan Academy, Scihub). Start with MIT’s 7.00x Intro to Biology course. Follow industry for advances in biotech (list of biotech resources).
You need a million dollars to get started. Biotech is generally expensive. Matt Scholz recounted his story maxing out his credit cards to get his first biotech startup off the ground. However, with some creativity, biotech startups can be done cheaply -- depending on what you choose to do. Kristen Fortney’s bioinformatics approach at BioAge Labs cost her only $5k - $10k to get started. Daniel Ives of Shift Bioscience was able to get to an investable proof of concept doing in vitro work for ~ $70k. Nabiha Saklayen and her founders at Cellino were able to build their prototype for under $20k.
Here are some of the best resources on starting your own longevity biotech company:
How to Start a Biotech Company in the Longevity Industry (2020) - Reason. This 20-page PDF written by Reason (Repair Biotechnologies, FightAging.org) is a goldmine for practical knowledge. This is my favorite point in his guide:
Thus there is the hard way to develop an idea for a biotech startup in the longevity field: spend years reading the research and attending the conferences, becoming familiar enough with the science, and the scientists, in order to identify and understand the potential of specific projects, and pick one. Then there is the easy way: just ask one of the existing advocates who has already done all of this and has thus gained a good familiarity with the projects that should be carried forward, but are not. Many of these advocates are very interested in connecting entrepreneurs with scientists in order to ensure that those projects are in fact developed.
Celine Halioua’s Blog: How to build a Biotech. Many great short to medium-length articles ranging from practical advice to more high-level perspectives. Some of my favorites:
The Entrepreneur’s Guide to a Biotech Startup - Peter Kolchinsky. One of the more well-known books on biotech startups in general. Peter Kolchinsky is the founder of RA Capital, one of the most prominent biotech VC firms.
Developing a Biotechnology Startup in the Rejuvenation Field - Kelsey Moody. A 2.5-hour presentation by Kelsey Moody, the founder of Ichor Therapeutics. Moody has a unique perspective, he dropped out of medical school to start his own fully-integrated aging biotech / CRO in his apartment (in which he even built his own vivarium).
Bay Bridge Bio Startup School - Richard Murphey. A series of panel talks on topics relevant to biotech startups. Unfortunately, the syllabus was not completed due to the pandemic.
There exists a large number of biotech startup accelerators, some restricted to specific universities, that can help founders at various levels of their journey. A smaller number of longevity-focussed accelerators can also be found. Ideally, there should be some sort of longevity-focussed biotech “startup school”, but nothing like this exists yet.
Longevity biotech specific
AGE1: Laura Deming / Longevity Fund’s accelerator. Historically AGE1 has taken four companies per year. The program offers mentorship and access to lab space. Alumni include Spring Discovery, Rubedo Life Science, Gordian Biotechnology, Deciduous Therapeutics, and Fauna Bio.
Foresight Health Extension accelerator: The Foresight Group is a non-profit that assembles a number of the top academics and industry leaders for seminars and events. The accelerator is sponsored by Sonia Arrison at 100plus Capital.
Non-specific to longevity
Petri Bio: Founded by some OGs in biotech (George Church, Daphne Koller, Marie LeProust). The companies they focus on tend to combine engineering and biology.
Y Combinator: Originally known more for software/tech startups, a growing number of biotech companies have gone through the YC program. Some longevity biotech alumni include Gerostate Alpha, Dorian Therapeutics, and Equator Therapeutics.
Entrepreneur First: An accelerator that invests in people. Individuals apply, form companies with other co-founders, and receive funding if their pitch is accepted.
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 of the Clubhouse show / podcast. We interview the people building, funding, and championing technologies that extend healthy human lifespan. On Clubhouse / Spotify podcasts.
The One 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.
LongevityBase.org - An open-source volunteer initiative to itemize every instance of modulation of biological aging in the scientific literature.
forum.longevitybase.org - An open question and answer system for aging biology and longevity biotechnology.
Humans For Longevity. A project featuring a collection of stories from people who care about longevity and their motivations.
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.
A special thanks to my Patreon supporters who have joined forces with me to undertake this mission.