#033: May 27th, 2021 - Longevity Marketcap Telemetry

Oisin and Loyal seed rounds. HAYA stealth. How to start a longevity biotech company.

  1. Announcements

  2. Last Week in Longevity

  3. Longevity Futures

  4. Capital Raise Radar

  5. Longevity Jobs

  6. New Companies on Longevity List 

  7. How to Start a Longevity Biotech Company

  8. My Links

*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. 

If you want to be part of this mission alongside me, please consider supporting through Patreon or Longevity List Merch.


📢 Announcements 


📝 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


📅 Longevity Futures

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

  • Yuva Biosciences // Currently raised $1.75M already (Seed) // Article

    • 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)

  • Oncolife Therapeutics // Raising $2M - $3M // Slide deck

    • Developing drugs that modulate stem cell activity to treat cancer and aging

    • Team: Guy Barry (QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia), Paul Baldock (The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia)

  • Gerostate Alpha // Raising $500k // WeFunder page

    • High-throughput phenotypic screen platform to discover anti-aging drugs.

    • A spinout from the Buck Institute for Aging. Y Combinator-backed startup.

    • 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.

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

  • 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 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.


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

Some interesting longevity companies I have stumbled upon and added to the Longevity List database in the past week. Have any longevity company tips? Please email me

  • 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:

  1. Increase the number of people who are aware that the longevity biotech industry even exists. 

  2. 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. 

Myths

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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).

  3. 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. 

Resources

Here are some of the best resources on starting your own longevity biotech company:

Programs

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 

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.

  • Founder Frequency by Pillar VC. A one-week biotech startup validation and co-founder dating program. A collaboration between Petri Bio and Pillar VC.  

  • 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.

  • The Engine: A venture accelerator firm spun out from MIT that invests in “tough tech”. Alumni include Cellino and Radix Labs.

  • Entrepreneur First: An accelerator that invests in people. Individuals apply, form companies with other co-founders, and receive funding if their pitch is accepted. 

  • StartX: A non-profit accelerator that requires at least one member to have a connection to Stanford. Alumni include Guided Clarity and Orca Bio

  • IndieBio: A four-month accelerator program in New York or San Francisco. Provides 250k in funding plus lab space and mentorship in exchange for equity. Alumni include Guided Clarity.


My Links

Some of my projects, resources, and ways to support my mission. More projects coming…

Projects

  • 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.

Support

A special thanks to my Patreon supporters who have joined forces with me to undertake this mission.