#036: Oct 25th, 2021 - Longevity Marketcap Telemetry
Altos Labs. ODX. Impetus Grants. Healthspan Capital. Media is Code.
Last Week(s) in Longevity
Capital Raise Radar
New Companies on Longevity List
Special Note: The Last Generation to Die
Media is Code.
*Sincerest apologies to my readers: I’ve been focussing 100% of my efforts on launching the first cohort of the On Deck Longevity Biotech (ODLB) program. Going forward, expect a more regular cadence for the Longevity Marketcap Newsletter. Thank you for your patience!
*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.
The On Deck Longevity Biotech Team (Ada Nguyen, Michelle Kwok, and myself) successfully launched the first cohort of ODLB on September 12th. Thank you to everyone who supported us and our mission: To increase the number of people working to build longevity biotech startups
Interested in getting involved in the Longevity Biotech startup ecosystem as a founder, early hire, or investor? Apply for the waiting list for the 2nd cohort of On Deck Longevity Biotech.
On Deck announces ODX, a $100M accelerator fund. I’m excited to be part of On Deck’s newest initiative to support founders with the launch of ODX. Any early-stage founders looking to get capital, support, and backing from an incredible community should apply -- especially if you are a longevity biotech founder!
My longevity rolling fund Healthspan Capital is now public on Angel List. We aim to invest in a broad “index-like” manner in longevity biotech startups.
Proud to announce that I’ve recently become an angel investor in Transistor Bio, a startup founded by the unrelenting Adam Ashwal. Transistor Bio is building a platform to automate in vivo studies, with a particular focus on dramatically lowering the cost of aged mice (which cost half their weight in gold).
Notice to new readers: You might want to take a look at this post of longevity resources if you are new to this space.
📝 Last Week(s) in Longevity
I have so much to tell you.
Altos Labs, a new anti-aging mega-biotech by Jeff Bezos, Yuri Milner, Rick Klausner, and many others.
It’s finally here!
I had written about Jeff Bezos’s rumored involvement in a big longevity initiative since May. Earlier in September, an MIT Technology Review scoop filled in some of the details of this new company, Altos Labs, and its roster of luminaries:
Backed by Israeli-Russian billionaire Yuri Milner (Breakthrough Prize) and Jeff Bezos. Rumors are that Bob Nelson at ARCH is also involved (not surprising) as well as Bill Maris’s Section 32 (Bill Maris co-founded Google Calico)
At least $270M raised already. (My sources indicate it is actually 2x this amount.
Altos Labs appears to be focussing on cellular reprogramming -- a nascent technology tracing its roots to the Nobel Prize-winning work of Shinya Yamanaka that allows old cells to reset their state to one resembling a young embryonic stem cell. Modern approaches include partial or transient reprogramming, with or without the OSKM Yamanaka factors, in order to rejuvenate cells.
Altos is poaching top scientific talent by offering $1M+ salaries and equity. Manuel Serrano, Wolf Reik, Steve Horvath, Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, and other top academic experts in cellular reprogramming have left their posts to join Altos.
Multi-site: USA, Europe, Japan, etc.
The initial focus will be on doing “great science”.
My take: Altos Labs is a welcomed development in longevity -- high-profile names will raise awareness, legitimacy, and capital for this space. However, the question on everyone’s mind within the community is how Altos Labs will avoid disappointing like Google Calico, which, contrary to Time magazine’s clickbait, has not solved death yet -- much less produced an FDA-approved therapy for any indication.1
Altos Labs, like Calico, seems to be focused on basic science, initially. But unlike Calico, Altos appears to be focused on a very specific therapeutic approach, cellular reprogramming -- which several other LongBio startups are hotly pursuing (Shift Bioscience, Retro Bioscience, Turn Bio, Iduna Therapeutics, and AgeX Therapeutics).
The alleged $6B earmarked for Altos Labs is just one of the big announcements slated for the longevity industry this year. Hevolution, a yet-announced initiative based in the Middle East and helmed by ex-Life Biosciences CEO, Mehmood Khan, is rumored to have $20B committed towards longevity.
Loyal raises $27M Series A + National Institutes on Aging ITP Collaboration. Loyal is a dog healthspan extension biotech startup founded by Celine Halioua. After only 4 months since they announced $11M raised in their seed round, Loyal revealed that they had raised another $27M for their Series A. Investors included Khosla Ventures, First Round Capital, The Longevity Fund, and several others. Clinical trials (in dogs) are expected in 2022 and 2023.
Loyal also announced earlier in September that two of their compounds had been selected by the NIA’s Interventions Testing Program (ITP) for testing. The ITP is the gold standard mouse lifespan test -- a multisite mouse lifespan study tested on a four-way cross of genetically heterogeneous mice (HET3).2
Launch of Impetus Grants. Early September, Martin Borch Jensen and his team of longevity apprentices announced the Impetus Grants -- a sort of “Fast Grants” for academics with proposals for longevity research projects. The project has raised $20M+ from individuals such as Juan Benet (IPFS), Jed McCaleb, and Vitalik Buterin. A stellar lighthouse donation of crypto wealth, no doubt.
The Impetus Grants team will disburse grants in the $10k - $500k range. Proposals will be reviewed by experts in aging biology and decisions made within three weeks. Interested researchers should apply here.
Astera’s $70M Rejuvenome project partners with the Buck Institute. The newly formed Astera Institute announced they would be working with the Buck Institute for their $70M Rejuvenome project -- a large-scale multi-omics study of anti-aging interventions and combinations of interventions in mice.
While there are several interventions known to extend maximal lifespan in mice, very few studies have been tried on combinations. There’s reason to believe that combining multiple interventions could increase lifespan in additive or even synergistic ways. For instance, metformin combined with rapamycin increases lifespan in mice additively.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong comes out in support of longevity and the Dog Aging Project. Last month, Brian Armstrong announced that he and several others donated a total of $2.5M to the Dog Aging Project (helmed by Matt Kaeberlein, Kate Creevy, and Daniel Promislaw). Armstrong also came out in support of longevity in general. The Dog Aging Project is a study involving 10,000+ dogs to track changes in canine biomarkers during aging. A small rapamycin trial will also be conducted in a subset of dogs.
The Brian Armstrong announcement is yet another example of the ubiquitous crypto-longevity overlap, which includes notable individuals like Vitalik Buterin, Balaji Srinivasan, Marc Bernegger, Qiao Wang, Mike Novogratz, Christian Angermeyer, among others. As the cryptocurrency markets continue to surge to new highs, newfound wealth in the hands of the technologically progressive will inevitably find its way to longevity, which is arguably the ultimate form of technology.
Elevian raises $40M Series A. Elevian is a longevity biotech startup that is developing recombinant growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11), a “young blood” circulating factor believed to be involved in improved tissue regeneration. The proceeds from Elevian’s Series A round will enable them to file an IND with the FDA and initiate Phase 1 clinical trials using GDF11 to treat stroke. Prime Mover Labs led the round, with Bold Capital, and Leslie Ventures also participating.
Elevian is based on the scientific work of Amy Wagers and Lee Rubin at Harvard. The role of GDF11 in longevity and regeneration is a bit contentious. Some studies suggest that GDF11 could play a role in regeneration and improve neurogenesis in mice. In contrast, a 2015 paper suggested that GDF11 inhibited muscle regeneration. See this review paper on GDF11 and this review too.
Fauna Bio raises $9M seed round. Fauna Bio is an early-stage biotech company building a discovery platform that leverages comparative genomics to find drug targets inspired by unique biological capabilities found within the animal kingdom. Fauna’s latest investment round was led by LifeForce Capital.
Fauna currently has partnerships for target discovery in obesity with Novo Nordisk and has programs in heart disease and novel targets for fibrosis.
Spring Research announces $32M Series B. Spring Discovery announced it had raised a $32M Series B to pursue multiple discovery programs and advance their clinical stage pipeline. The round was led by General Catalyst and Elad Gil. Other notable investors include Caffeinated Capital, First Round, and Tencent.
Most interestingly, Spring also announced it had spun up a non-profit organization to conduct a clinical trial of a cheap generic drug (disulfiram) to treat moderate COVID-19. Disulfiram, a drug approved to treat alcohol dependence, was identified by Spring’s machine learning platform to potentially modulate hyperinflammation. Inflammaging and overactive/dysregulated immune systems are suspected to play a large role in aging and mortality in elderly COVD-19 patients.
Spring Discovery is a biotech startup that uses a machine learning and wet lab automation platform to identify therapies that can treat aging and its diseases. The company is an AGE1 accelerator alumni and was founded by Ben Kamens in 2017.
Underdog Pharmaceuticals raises $10M Seed II. Underdog Pharmaceuticals is a SENS Research Foundation spinout that is developing novel cyclodextrin drugs to treat atherosclerosis. Last week the company announced the closing of a $10M Seed II round led by Kizoo Technology Capital. Underdog plans to use the funds to enter the clinic by 2023.
Atherosclerosis is an age-related disease characterized by the stiffening of arteries caused by the buildup of plaques in the inner lining of the artery. Cyclodextrins are molecules of glucose linked together in a ring. Beta-cyclodextrin is known to have the potential to remove 7-ketocholesterol (7KC), a product involved in arterial plaque buildup, but has safety issues as a drug. Underdog is attempting to create novel safe cyclodextrins to remove 7KC.
In May, Kizoo and Web.de co-founder Michael Greve announced 362M EUR earmarked for investment in rejuvenation biotech startups.
Unity Biotechnology announces positive Phase 1 clinical trial data for UBX1325. Begins Phase 2 study. Unity Biotechnology is a publicly-traded clinical stage LongBio company developing drugs that kill senescent cells. Earlier this summer, the company announced positive results for their Phase 1 safety trial for their drug UBX1325 (a Bcl-xL inhibitor) to treat diabetic macular edema (DME). There were no treatment related adverse events and further early efficacy data showed some improvements in visual acuity and macular thickness. Unity is currently conducting Phase 2 trials for UBX1325 in DME (results expected in 2022) and planning trials for macular degeneration.
Unity is the most prominent company in the nascent senolytics industry. The company raised hundreds of millions from investors including ARCH Venture Partners, Longevity Fund, Peter Thiel, and Jeff Bezos and raised an IPO in 2017. Unfortunately, their first program UBX0101, a senolytic drug to treat osteoarthritis in the knee, failed in Phase 2 last year, which imploded their market capitalization.
Minovia announces partnership deal with Astellas for mitochondrial therapeutics. US and Israel-based mitochondrial augmentation startup Minovia announced a partnership with Japanese pharma giant, Astellas in late July. The deal includes a $20M payment upfront with up to $420M per product. Minovia has tested their mitochondrial augmentation therapy in Phase 2 clinical trials for Pearson syndrome -- a rare mitochondrial disease.
Mitochondrial transfer/augmentation is a therapeutic approach to correct mitochondrial dysfunction in rare or chronic age-related diseases through the addition of undamaged mitochondria into cells. Minovia, Cellvie, and Mitrix are the only three startups I’m aware of pursuing this approach -- each with a different spin. Minovia infuses hematopoietic stem cells with undamaged mitochondria ex vivo before transfusion of the stem cells into the patient. Cellvie uses direct transfusion or injection of autologous mitochondria into tissue. Mitrix is leveraging so-called “mitlets” mitochondria ejected from platelets in extracellular vesicles.
Other news in brief
Stanford now has a course in Longevity Venture Capital (taught in part by Ronjon Nag of R42)
📅 Longevity Futures
November 17-18, 2021: Longevity Summit - A new online conference on longevity. Incredible list of speakers including Kristen Fortney, Hanadie Yousef, Ben Kamens, Daniel Ives, Matt Kaeberlein, Nikolina Lauc, Andrew Brack, Martin Borch Jensen, and more. I will be moderating a panel. Free passes are available to select audiences.
November 17th, 2021: Investing in the Age of Longevity - An online conference on longevity investing put on by Jim Mellon and Master Investor. Speakers include Nir Barzilai, James Peyer, Jim Mellon, Daniel Ives, Sergey Young, James Kirkland, and more. Tickets are 300/100 GBP for non-academic/academic attendees.
December 4th - 5th (SF), 11th - 12th (Paris): Foresight Institute’s Vision Weekend - Starting at the Internet Archive, a rocket company, and ship in San Francisco on Dec 4 & 5, culminating at a laboratory for the future disguised as a stunning castle outside of Paris on Dec 11 & 12. Plus permanent 2022 cyberspace layer. 40+ presenters are confirmed across biotech, nanotech, neurotech, computing, and space, including Jose Luis Ricon (Rejuvenone), Sonia Arrison (100 Plus), Adam Marblestone (FRO), Greg Fahy, (Intervene Immune), Dina Radenkovic (SALT), (Peter Norvig (Google), Jaan Tallinn (Skype), Anders Sandberg (Future of Humanity Institute), and many more.
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.
Machine learning platform targeting genes involved in cellular reprogramming.
Raising 3.5M GBP seed round.
Founded by Daniel Ives.
Stealth synbio & gut microbiome longevity company // Pre-seed // email for details
2nd-time biotech founder
Novel synbio approach to longevity, not publicly disclosed
Recipient of NIH SBIR grant,
Looking to raise a pre-seed round
Contact for more details.
Protein-based therapeutics for tissue regeneration startup // Series A // email me for more details
proprietary protein library
machine learning-enhanced drug discovery platform
pipeline of novel drug candidates
Contact for more 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
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.
3x reprogramming postdocs // Ocampo Lab // Lausanne, Switzerland
Executive Assistant // Retro Biosciences // Redwood City, California
Immunologist // Spring Discovery // San Carlos, California
Senior Research Associate // Rubedo Life Sciences // Sunnyvale, California
Head of Operations // Laura Deming’s NewCo // ?
Chief of Staff // Loyal // San Francisco
RA, scientists, senior scientists // Dorian Therapeutics // San Carlos, California
Bioinformatician // Rejuvenome Project // Berkeley, California
Senior Scientist, Medicinal Chemistry // Weatherwax Bio // San Francisco, California
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 discovered and added to the Longevity List database in the past week. Have any longevity company tips? Please email me.
Arda Therapeutics: Founded by Adam Freund, an ex-principal investigator at Calico. This startup is developing a single-cell sequencing platform to identify cell surface markers associated with pathological cells (senescent cells and beyond). Arda will then develop immunotherapies to remove these cells (antibody, CAR-T)
Weatherwax Bio: Founded by Armand Cognetta and Mathias Pauthner, this YC and Longevity Fund-backed startup is developing a therapeutic platform based on induced-proximity / bifunctional drugs to drug undruggable targets.
Vincere Biosciences: Founded by Spring Behrouz and Andy Lee. The company focuses on therapeutics to increase mitophagy (recycling dysfunctional mitochondria) in order to treat multiple diseases including Parkinson’s disease, etc.
Telos Biotechnology: A startup spun out from an academic team at University of Texas South Western focussing on telomeres.
🧬 Special Note: Funding The Last Generation to Die
Filmmaker Tim Maupin's longevity feature film is currently in development and seeking funding. Based on his proof-of-concept, festival favorite, and visually stunning short film "The Last Generation to Die", this full-length adaptation will dive further into a near-future world in a positive light where science is just on the cusp of true age-reversal. This film seeks to change minds and hearts toward the positive benefits of longevity without going into the usual dystopian Hollywood territory. Greater public acceptance would move the science faster and more quickly reduce suffering and save more lives.
Full deck and financial information are available upon request. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can be part of this groundbreaking film in which the convergence of art and science will serve as a powerful, global mission statement redefining aging. To view the proof-of-concept short film and for more information, please visit the film’s website: www.lastgenmovie.com
Media is code.
I’ve personally donated $1,000 to fund Tim Maupin’s full feature film “The Last Generation to Die”.
Longevity biotechnology is not solely a scientific or commercial enterprise: It is also a political enterprise. DNA and RNA coding of cells will play an important role in increasing human longevity. But so will the coding of collective human effort towards longevity. And media scripts for human beings.
Siddhartha Mukherjee writes in his book “The Emperor of All Maladies”
The campaign against cancer, Farber learned, was much like a political campaign: it needed icons, mascots, images, slogans—the strategies of advertising as much as the tools of science. For any illness to rise to political prominence, it needed to be marketed, just as a political campaign needed marketing. A disease needed to be transformed politically before it could be transformed scientifically.
Aging is a disease3 in dire need of a political transformation. Less than one percent of the NIH budget today goes towards geroscience proper -- even though most major diseases are driven by aging. How can we align the public on the problem of aging?
We need common stories: Pro-longevity media and storytelling are the vectors for propagating a shared vision for a future devoid of all age-related diseases.
Media modulates regulations downstream, too.
The speed at which we can test and commercialize anti-aging interventions is currently constrained by the FDA. But the FDA is made of people and reflects the collective desires of society. COVID-19 demonstrated how quickly a new intervention can be approved if people want it badly enough. Shared desire. Shared stories. Shared vision. Media codes for these.
Since my last newsletter, I’ve noticed a promising wave of pro-longevity media initiatives being formed -- some through the On Deck Longevity Biotech Fellowship as well. We’ll need more media efforts like these to counter misleading clickbait journalist narratives of longevity, those centered on blood boy-draining immortality-seeking billionaires, overpopulation, etc. These are tired tropes.
So if you share the same optimistic vision for the future as me, consider funding those who endeavor to tell the longevity story.
Reach out to director Tim Maupin: email@example.com
🔗 My Links
Some of my projects, resources, and ways to support my mission. More projects coming…
On Deck Longevity Biotech Fellowship (Program Director) - On Deck Longevity Biotech (ODLB) is a continuous community for people to come together to build, join, or invest in revolutionary longevity biotechnology startups.
Healthspan Capital - An early-stage longevity biotech venture fund.
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.
forum.longevitybase.org - An open question and answer system for aging biology and longevity biotechnology.
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.
Humans for Longevity - A literary art project featuring the stories and motivations behind the people working on solving the problem of aging.
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.
The criticism of Calico’s lack of concrete clinical success might be a little harsh— perhaps they are playing the long game. Calico has partnered up with Abbvie (together investing $3.5B) and has an asset in a clinical trial (looks like a cancer play though).
Highly recommend Peter Attia’s interview with Richard Miller -- the mastermind behind the NIA’s ITP program.
Or medical condition — as Reason would say.