#034: June 9th, 2021 - Longevity Marketcap Telemetry

Aducanumab! VitaDAO token sale. Lineage Cell. Non-Traditional.

  1. Announcements

  2. Last Week in Longevity

  3. Longevity Futures

  4. Capital Raise Radar

  5. Longevity Jobs

  6. New Companies on Longevity List 

  7. Non-Traditional

  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

Errata: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Rubedo Life Science’s lead program was a “galacto-conjugate prodrug”. This has been corrected to “prodrug”.

  • Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab gets FDA approval. On Monday, the FDA made a controversial decision to grant accelerated approval to Biogen’s aducanumab antibody therapy to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The approval is conditional on the requirement of Phase 4 trials that confirm aducanumab’s efficacy within nine years, or the approval could be rescinded by the FDA. This marks the first new drug approved for Alzheimer’s disease in 20 years.

    The approval was surprising. An independent expert committee convened last November voted overwhelmingly (10 objections, 1 abstain) against the approval of aducanumab, citing a failure to show strong evidence of its effectiveness to reduce cognitive decline. Biogen conducted two Phase 3 studies of aducanumab in Alzheimer’s disease, of which only one trial met a clinical endpoint of reduction of cognitive decline. The FDA’s decision of accelerated approval hinged on aducanumab’s demonstration of removal of beta-amyloid plaques, which the FDA “expects” will lead to a reduction in cognitive decline. The amyloid hypothesis is not a settled fact so this expectation is uncertain. On the plus side, this approval might pave the way for more favorable views on surrogate endpoints -- something that will be needed for trials in aging.

    The chatter on biotech Twitter / longevity Twitter was mostly of disbelief and cries of FDA corruption. There were a few notable sympathizers with the decision. Robert Nelson of ARCH Venture Partners believed that the conditional approval was the right moveOthers did not mince words.

    Alzheimer’s disease is a manifestation of aging in the brain -- the risk factor goes up exponentially with age. Of note: 20-year-olds don’t get Alzheimer’s disease. The paradigm of the longevity therapeutics industry is that we can prevent age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s if we can treat the root cause (aging) before the pathology is possibly too far advanced to treat without replacement therapies like those championed by Jean Hebert.

  • VitaDAO announces token sale from June 18th - June 23rd. VitaDAO is a decentralized autonomous organization that seeks to fund longevity research and commercialize the resulting intellectual property -- all on the Ethereum blockchain.

    The VitaDAO tokens generated in the “genesis” event starting June 18th give holders voting rights for research proposals, commercialization, and the operation of the DAO. Those that would like to participate in the token sale will need a non-exchange crypto wallet, such as Metamask, holding the desired amount of Ether (i.e Ethereum) they want to put into the sale (+network gas fees). Further instructions on how to interact with the genesis event smart contract will be released soon. See VitaDAO’s discord group for more information.

  • Lineage Cell Therapeutics (NYSE:LCTX) announces additional cases of retinal restoration, OpRegen cell therapy. Lineage Cell Therapeutics is a regenerative medicine cell therapy company that develops allogeneic cell therapies to treat dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD), spinal cord injury, and cancer. Last week, the company announced two additional cases of sustained restoration (~ 6 months post-treatment) of retinal tissue in patients with dry AMD treated with Lineage’s OpRegen RPE cell replacement therapy. Visual acuity in these patients was also above baseline after 6 months. Lineage’s stock surged 26% on the news.

    Dry AMD is an age-related ocular disease that leads to vision loss. It is characterized by the buildup of drusen deposits under the retina, and loss of retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE cells) and photoreceptors. Dry AMD affects ~ 9 million people in the US alone and there are no effective FDA-approved treatments.

    Lineage’s data is a remarkable result and a major win for replacement therapies and regenerative medicine: It is a reversal of CNS tissue damage caused by aging. While other companies like Astellas had attempted a similar RPE cell therapy in the past, the results of improved visual acuity were not sustained past 3 years.

  • HCW Biologics files for IPO. HCW Biologics is a clinical-stage Florida-based biotech that develops fusion protein therapies that modulate inflammaging in order to treat cancer and other age-related diseases. Last week, the company announced it was seeking to raise $50M in an IPO listing on the NASDAQ. Their S-1 can be found here.

    Of note, HCW Biologic’s HCW9218 is designed to block transforming growth factor-ß (TGF-ß), which is believed to have immunosuppressive and pro-cellular senescence activity. Initial indications for HCW9218 are cancer (to remove chemotherapy-induced senescent cells) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

    Inflammation and immune system dysregulation have been linked to aging (“inflammaging”) and there are several companies developing anti-aging therapeutics in these contexts. The connection between senescent cells, SASP, cancer, and chemotherapy is being targeted by longevity startups like Rejuversen and Oncosence


📅 Longevity Futures


June 15th @ 1PM ET. MEGA Longevity Panel: The scientists working on reversing aging. Avi Roy (Oxford), Laura Minquini (MYKIGAI), and I have organized an incredible panel of some of the biggest names in anti-aging / longevity including Aubrey de Grey, David Sinclair, Jean Hebert, Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, David Gobel, Greg Fahy, Liz Parrish, and Alexandra Stolzing.  


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.

  • Stealth reprogramming startup // Seed // (email for details)

    • Not publicly disclosed. 

    • Email me for details. 

  • 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

  • HCW Biologics: A company developing fusion proteins to modulate the immune system and inflammation to treat cancer and age-related diseases. HCW9028 is a TGF-beta inhibitor that acts on the nexus of senescence, SASP, and immune system dysregulation. HCW9028 is being developed to treat cancer (in the context of chemotherapy-induced senescence) and IPF.

  • Myoforte Therapeutics: A company developing regenerative medicine to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, local muscle atrophy, and sarcopenia. Myoforte’s key asset is a small molecule drug that activates muscle stem cells to regenerate muscle (in mice). It achieves this by inhibiting 15-PGDH, which in turn raises levels of prostaglandin E2. The company is a spinout from Helen Blau’s lab at Stanford. *Thanks to a reader from Japan for this company tip.

  • Synthetic Biologic (NYSE:SYN): A publicly traded company that develops a recombinant version of intestinal alkaline phosphatase -- a protein enzyme that increases median lifespan in mice by ~+40%. The company also develops other drugs that target the gut microbiome or gut barrier health. 


Non-Traditional

Not everyone in longevity comes from the traditional biology track. The overarching mission of the longevity biotech industry tends to draw in people from diverse fields -- many from outside of the biological sciences. 

This is a good thing. Not only does it reinforces the notion that anyone can get involved in longevity, it also increases the diversity of thought and approaches to the problem of aging. Historically speaking, some of the biggest advances in biology were catalyzed by those outside the field (Delbruck, Schrodinger, and Crick, for instance) 

Here’s a list of just some of the prominent people within the longevity industry that came from backgrounds outside of the traditional biological sciences. 

Note: There are also ways to get involved in the longevity industry that are specifically NOT biology or AI machine learning jobs. See LongevityList.com for job listings.

Note 2: A majority of the founders of longevity-focussed venture funds do not come from traditional biotech.

Aubrey de Grey

Affiliation: Founder SENS Research Foundation

Background: Computer science, AI

Aubrey de Grey is considered one of the founders of the anti-aging field. He was the first to popularize the idea of damage repair with the seven SENS categories of aging damage -- very similar to the mainstream nine Hallmarks of Aging that would come several years later. His popular book, Ending Aging, inspired countless numbers of people to get involved in solving the problem of biological aging (the author of this newsletter included). 

Despite being one of the founders of the anti-aging space, he has no formal biology training. Aubrey de Grey received a Bachelor’s degree in computer science from Cambridge and worked as an artificial intelligence researcher at Sinclair Research. He learned biology on his own from reading papers and attending conferences. He proposed a theory of aging, the Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging, in his book of the same name published in 1999. For this publication, he was awarded a Ph.D. from Cambridge. 

Laura Deming

Affiliation: Founder, The Longevity Fund

Background: Physics, Cynthia Kenyon’s Lab.

In 2011, Laura Deming, a Thiel Fellow and former protege of Cynthia Kenyon, founded the first longevity-focussed venture fund at the age of 17. Although she did some C. elegans biology work in Kenyon’s lab when she was 14, she actually went on to study physics at MIT. Laura Deming would later drop out after being awarded a Thiel Fellowship. The rest is history. 

Laura Deming’s style of thought is heavily influenced by physics (She live streams Gedanken experiments on Twitch, has a fondness for bionumbers, first principles thinking, etc). Her fund, The Longevity Fund, invests in companies that sometimes have an unusual aging angle. 

Matt Scholz

Affiliation: Oisin Biotechnologies, OncoSenX, Immusoft

Background: Computer science, physics

Matt Scholz started his career in computer science and computer security. His first biotech company, Immusoft, was envisioned as the first app store for the human body. Scholz started the company after he spent a couple of years self-learning biology by reading biomedical papers and inundating academic researchers with questions. 

Currently, Matt is running two biotech companies, OncoSenX and Oisin Biotechnologies -- gene therapy companies in oncology and aging respectively. He has repeatedly stated that his north star belief for these companies is that “the essence of life is information”.

Ben Kamens

Affiliation: Founder, Spring Discovery

Background: Software engineering, computer science

Ben Kamens was founding engineer and VP of Engineering at Khan Academy. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in computer science and philosophy from Duke University. In a Clubhouse conversation with General Catalyst’s Katherine Boyle earlier this year, he recounted how he self-learned biology and went down the proverbial “rabbit hole” of aging biology. 

In 2017, with the encouragement of Laura Deming, he founded Spring Discovery, a startup with a drug discovery platform that uses AI/ML and lab automation to develop therapies that treat aging and its diseases. Spring Discovery raised an $18M Series A in 2018.

Reason

Affiliation: Repair Biotechnologies, FightAging.org

Background: Space physics, astrophysics

Reason has been writing about aging biology since 2002 at his blog fightaging.org -- one of the best resources in longevity and aging biology. He received Master’s degrees in Space Physics and Astrophysics. 

In 2018 he founded Repair Biotechnologies alongside Bill Cherman. The company is developing a gene therapy to degrade cholesterol plaques in order to treat atherosclerosis. 

Jonah Sinick 

Affiliation: CEO Equator Therapeutics, formerly Head of Data Science BioAge Labs

Background: Mathematics

Jonah Sinick received his Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Illinois (focus on number theory and hyperbolic geometry). He was formerly head of Data Science at Kristen Fortney’s BioAge Labs before he became CEO of Equator Therapeutics -- a Y Combinator startup that is developing a mitochondrial uncoupler drug. 

Peter Fedichev

Affiliation: Founder, Gero

Background: Physics

Peter Fedichev is a theoretical physicist and biotechnology founder. He received his Master’s in Physics at Moscow State University and his Ph.D at Amsterdam University. He was an assistant professor of physics at the University of Innsbruck.

At some point around 2012 Peter Fedichev switched from writing mostly physics papers with titles like “Liquid-liquid phase transition model incorporating evidence for ferroelectric state near the lambda-point anomaly in supercooled water” to more biology and drug discovery related papers. In 2012, Fedichev co-founded Gero, an AI drug discovery startup that leverages data from whole-exome sequencing.

Note: Fedichev’s LinkedIn profile reads: “Сuring the uncurable with Landau Lifshitz book and a bit of AI”. Landau and Lifshitz is a legendary tome on theoretical physics. 

Joe Betts-LaCroix

Affiliation: Founder, Retro Biosciences, Vium

Background: Earth sciences, robotics, biophysics

Joe Betts-LaCroix’s background is multi-disciplinary to the extreme. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in earth sciences, a Master’s degree in robotics at MIT, and did biophysics research at Caltech. He has experience founding DNA sequencing and electronics companies, built the world’s smallest personal computer at a time, and was also a co-founder of Vium -- a digital vivarium company. 

He is currently the founder of Retro Biosciences, a startup that uses high-throughput, high-dimensional approaches to develop therapies for diseases driven by the biology of aging.


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 literary art project featuring the stories and motivations behind the people working on solving the problem of aging. 

Support

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