May 22, 2023:
News of the death of the Longevity Marketcap Newsletter has been greatly exaggerated. (“Tis but a dauer state!”)
It’s been 1.3 years since my last publication (sorry). There have been massive developments in the longevity industry – and also a number of significant personal updates.
But the mission remains the same.
These are my notes from the longevity underground.
Last Year in Longevity (2022 - present)
*Disclaimer: None of this should be taken as financial advice. It is for educational purposes only.
📢 Change Log
I’ve left On Deck. The 1.5 years I spent building the On Deck Longevity Biotech Fellowship were a whirlwind of accelerated personal growth, of which I am eternally grateful for. We successfully ran two cohorts and 200+ fellows went through the program, many of which are now working in the longevity industry today.
I’m now running the Longevity Biotech Fellowship, a new nonprofit organization I co-founded with Mark Hamalainen (formerly Head of Science @ Synthego). Our mission is to scale the amount of people working on longevity through our community and Fellowship program – a 3-day intensive workshop-retreat + 12-week online career path accelerator.
Healthspan Capital, an early-stage longevity biotech VC fund I co-founded, has now made 18 investments over its 1.5 years of operation. We’ve become one of, if not the most, active investors in the space. You can join our fund through Angel List here.
More projects to be announced soon...
Special Note: SynBioBeta 2023
I’ll be speaking on a panel on Longevity x Synthetic Biology at SynBioBeta 2023 in Oakland, California (May 23 - 25).
SynBioBeta is the biggest industry conference in synthetic biology and this year they have another impressive speaker lineup of giants in biotech (Craig Venter, Martine Rothblatt, Jason Kelley, + many more )
But most notably, this is the first SynBioBeta conference that will have dedicated programming on longevity biotech, including sessions with Laura Deming (Longevity Fund, Lorentz Bio), Joe Betts-LaCroix (Retro Biosciences), Chris Patil (BioAge), and more.
PS: You can use this discount code (SPKTK9TNGCON) to get $200 off your SynBioBeta 2023 ticket.
📝 Last Year in Longevity (2022 - present)
It’s been over a year since my last newsletter (sorry). Here’s a summary of what happened in longevity.
2022 was a rollercoaster year in longevity. It started off with a bang – a parade of historic billion dollar headlines and new initiatives. But today there are clouds of uncertainty as the macroeconomic headwinds have pummelled the entire biotech/tech sector.
Here are the top stories and trends from last year:
1. The Year of the Mega-reprogramming Startup
A summary of the most well-funded startups in partial reprogramming that made the news last year.
Three very well-funded longevity startups developing partial reprogramming technology were announced around the beginning of 2022:
Altos Labs ($3B in funding from Yuri Milner, Jeff Bezos, ARCH Ventures, allegedly)
Retro Biosciences ($180M in funding from Sam Altman of OpenAI, and others)
NewLimit ($105 in funding from Brian Armstrong of Coinbase, and others, and now an additional $40M Series A from outside investors)
Let’s take a look at each:
Funding: At $3B dollars at launch, Altos Labs is the most well-funded seed financing in all of startup history – if it can even be called a startup. (There are also recent rumors that Altos Labs has raised an additional several billions in funding... )
Is bigger better? The comparisons drawn between Altos and Google’s Calico are inevitable, the latter of which has received its share of criticism for not having enough to show for after 10 years of operation.
The risk with these “Bell Labs of Aging” companies is that, while aiming to excel at both basic science and drug development, they end up performing badly at both. Do basic science, but can’t openly share results. Do drug development, but it’s difficult to develop a drug pipeline starting from your basic science efforts efficiently. Additionally, funding an organization with massive amounts of unfederated capital upfront removes some of the existential pressure to move with brutal efficiency.
Roster: The founding team consists of pharma/biotech veterans Rick Klausner (NCI, Juno Therapeutics), Hal Barron (poached from GSK, also formerly at Calico), Hans Bishop (Formerly at GRAIL), and founding scientist Juan Carlos Izpisua-Belmonte (formerly Salk Institute, pioneered the partial reprogramming technique alongside Alejandro Ocampo).
Altos has also been able to recruit a large chunk of academia’s top aging scientists, reportedly offering million dollar salaries to entice them to drop prestigious tenured academic positions. Top names include: Wolf Reik, Steve Horvath, Morgan Levine, Manuel Serrano, and many others.
Funders: Perhaps the most revealing thing about the Altos announcement was what was not mentioned in the press release: Any of their investors.
I have 99% confidence that Yuri Milner was the main funder behind Altos, but his involvement along with Jeff Bezos’s, (or any other person) has never been officially confirmed. (Perhaps this was done to avoid propagating the “billionaires chasing immortality” meme.)
But why so secretive? If this was a cancer hospital (or space museum or physics prize), Milner/Bezos’s name would be on the building in big letters. Perhaps Altos is wrestling with some inner longevity-shame (exacerbated by the billionaire connection).
What are they working on?: Not aging, apparently. Altos’s Rick Klausner made it abundantly clear that they are not a longevity company and that they do not work on aging. Altos’s president, Hans Bishop, said that any extension in longevity would be an “accidental consequence”.Their founding scientist, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, on the other hand would later say that he expects their research to produce treatments to prevent aging within two decades.
Perhaps Altos’s leadership + PR team believe that they need to pretend to not be a longevity company in order to shield themselves from negative press and public perception.
Unfortunately, we become what we pretend to be. Say “We don’t work on aging!” enough times, and it will permeate the company culture, its people, the choices that are made, and ultimately subvert their goal.
Which is definitely not longevity.
Retro Biosciences quietly came out of stealth early in 2022, but details around the company and its “mysterious funder” only became public this year.
Funding: Retro has raised a whopping $180M in funding – the bulk of which from Sam Altman, co-founder of OpenAI and formerly president of Y Combinator. Altman reportedly put his entire liquid net worth into two companies: Retro and Helion (a fusion reactor company). The funding is to support Retro’s work for 10 years as a sort of OpenAI-for-longevity project.
Roster: Retro is led by serial entrepreneur-scientist Joe Betts-LaCroix, a well known leader in the longevity field. He previously founded Vium (an in vivo vivarium monitoring/automation startup) and was part-time partner at Y Combinator, building out its first Biotech batch (which were actually just all longevity companies). Co-founders include Matt Buckley (from the Brunet lab) and Sheng Ding (professor at UCSF and expert in reprogramming).
Additionally, a lot of the smartest and most driven people I know in the aging space have found their way to joining Retro.
What are they working on?: At a high level, the mission of the company is to extend healthy lifespan by 10 years. From what I’ve gathered, the overarching strategy of the company is to be able to do biology at scale, hence their heavy focus on automation and computational biology.
Retro has three main therapeutic programs:
Plasma based therapies (i.e parabiosis inspired)
Joe Betts-LaCroix presented some of Retro’s preliminary preclinical results at ARDD 2022 in Copenhagen, which included reprogramming to increase pools of naive and central memory T-cells, an autophagy enhancing molecule that showed increased muscle performance in a certain mouse model of disease, and a plasma experiment that reduced fibrosis in muscle and liver. Retro plans to be in the clinic this year for two of their programs and have therapies approved by the end of the decade.
PS: I’ve had the pleasure of touring the famous “shipping container” labs at Retro HQ and it is seriously cool.
Announced back in late 2021, NewLimit was co-founded by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and Blake Byers (formerly a biotech investor at Google Ventures). NewLimit is a self-professed “radical healthspan extension” company. Nice.
Funding: NewLimit launched with $105M in funding, ostensibly a large part of this coming from Brian Armstrong (who has a reported net worth of $2.4B). Armstrong would later on pledge of 2% of his Coinbase shares towards funding efforts to address aging. Earlier this week, NewLimit had announced it had raised a $40M Series A from Founders Fund, Dimension, Kleiner Perkins, Elad Gil, and others.
Roster: NewLimit poached Jacob Kimmel, a star principal investigator from Calico to serve as their Head of Research. Kimmel previously conducted some key work that suggested that in Yamanaka reprogramming, genes involved in dedifferentiation could be separated from those involved in rejuvenation – a result that helped spur the intense race to find novel rejuvenation factors.
What are they working on?: The company is very open with sharing their progress via updates on their blog and even a recent Nerualink-style live-streamed event. NewLimit’s strategy is to do high-throughput pooled screens of combinations of transcription factors + machine learning to narrow down the search for novel rejuvenation genes. Their first applications will be in immune system rejuvenation (T cells, tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, etc).
Logo: A based on lifespan survival curves– with a cheeky wink and a nod to asymptotic immortality. I believe the logo is quite similar to the one I designed at Healthspan Capital (and my lawyers agree!)
PS: While the reprogramming space race heats up, it must be noted a number of other players exist such as Calico, Turn Bio, Shift Bioscience (I’m an investor), YouthBio, Iduna Therapeutics, Marble Therapeutics, Rejuvenate Bio, NeuroAge, and a few others that have yet to be announced.
2. Hevolution, Zuzalu, and The Longevity States
After months of rumours, the Saudi nonprofit organization Hevolution Foundation was finally announced at AGE 2022 by its CSO and former NIA Director, Felipe Sierra. The foundation, created by royal decree, will deploy up to $1B per year into longevity — ⅓ of which will be for private startups and ⅔ for academic grants.
So far, Hevolution has only announced funding for academic grants, including:
$2M for Impetus Grants (excellent choice!). Press release.
$8.5M for AFAR New Investigators Awards in geroscience and aging biology. Press release.
$5M for HF-AGE, NIH grants that were deemed meritorious by peer review, but not funded.
$115M for preclinical translational geroscience projects. Press release.
(And there’s also at least one major non-commercial project that Hevolution is funding that has not yet been announced… I’m not referring to the TAME trial, I don’t have any info on that)
Why Hevolution is important
Hevolution represents something much more than just capital itself (which is already game changing for longevity).
Hevolution is the first example of what you get when a state actually prioritizes doing something about aging – a so-called “longevity state”.
The $1B/yr that Hevolution plans to deploy represents ⅛ of a percent of Saudi Arabia’s GDP per year. This is within an order of magnitude of proportionate funding the United States spent on the Apollo Program (2.5% of US GDP per year for 10 years). This is truly remarkable.
In contrast, the United States spends ~ $400M on basic aging biology research + some small amount of grants that make its way to longevity startups, representing less than 0.002% of its GDP per year. A United States Apollo-level effort to tackle aging would require a ~1000x increase in funding, or $400B a year.
(Aside: ARPA-H, a new US DARPA-style initiative for biomedical innovation, has a budget of $2.5B over three years. While not explicitly aging-focussed the director of ARPA-H, seems very sympathetic to the geroscience field. The agency’s first project announced this week, “NITRO”, is focused on regeneration of joint tissue to treat osteoarthritis.)
Lately there’s been multiple efforts to effect political shifts towards longevity states including Zuzalu (where I am writing this newsletter), an experimental crypto AI-doomer zK network-state longevity pop-up city in Montenegro, initiated by Vitalik Buterin (with involvement from VitaDAO and others), the New Castle: City of Longevity proposal, political lobbying groups like A4LI, and some other revolutionary initiatives still in stealth.
Already I’m hearing through my network of examples of governments around the world making requests for longevity policy proposals. In the next 5 - 10 years, I predict we will see a growing number of states enact pro-longevity policies both for health and wellness in the present but also for research and development of the aging therapies of the future.
3. Aging Drugs in the Clinic: Wins and Failures
As of today, there are zero drugs approved for aging or longevity.
However, a number of drugs developed in the context of aging are being tested in clinical trials right now.
In the past year, some of these aging drug clinical trials have seen success, others have failed. Here are the some of the main clinical outcomes over the last year:
BioAge // BGE-105 // Phase 1b // Age-related muscle decline
BioAge announced positive results in their Phase 1b trial of BGE-105, an apelin receptor agonist drug to treat age-related muscle decline. In the study of 21 bed-rested older adults, the subjects treated with BGE-105 showed less muscle atrophy compared to the control arm – up to 100% greater relative improvement in muscle mass by some measures. Loss of muscle mass with age results in loss of mobility and physical function and increases the risk of falls and fractures (which can lead to serious health problems and death in older adults).
BioAge uses proprietary biobank samples linked to health records + machine learning to identify relevant pathways in aging. The company has raised over $120M+ from investors including a16z and Khosla Ventures.
Unity Biotechnology // UBX1325 // Phase 2 // Diabetic Macular Edema
In April this year, Unity Biotechnology announced positive long-term (48 week) follow up results in their Phase 2 trial of UBX1325, a senolytic Bcl-xl inhibitor drug to treat diabetic macular edema. In the study of 65 patients, subjects treated with a single injection of UBX1325, a senescent-cell killing drug, showed greater improvement in visual acuity compared to those in the sham-treated control group – a relative improvement of +5.6 letters. Unity plans to proceed with a Phase 2b trial comparing against anti-VEGF treatment. UBX1325 is the farthest clinically advanced senolytic drug in longevity, a successful Phase 3 would be a much needed validation for the field of senescent cell-targeting interventions.
Unity Biotechnology // UBX1325 // Phase 2 // Wet age-related Macular Degeneration
Unity unfortunately did not see the same success in their wet age-related macular degeneration Phase 2 trial with UBX1325. In March 2023, the company reported that their 51-person study did not meet its primary endpoint. Patients treated with UBX1325 saw an average change of visual acuity of -0.8 letters while the control arm (treated with anti-VEGF injection) saw an unexpected increase of +3.2 letters.
Longevity biotech is a tiny field right now. But all it will take is one positive Phase 3 trial of an aging drug to spark the next phase of intense growth of the field.
4. Towards Longevity on the Label
One of the outstanding challenges facing the longevity biotech industry is actually proving that any of these drugs will increase lifespan. The general vibe in the longevity community is that a lifespan trial in humans will never be done– though I suspect that this is dogma.Sure, geroprotection / TAME-like / multi-morbidity risk reduction trials can demonstrate efficacy in aging/healthspan or delaying age-related disease, but this is not the same thing as longevity (i.e actual increase in life expectancy). These are only proxies.
One of the few companies that actually have a credible plan to demonstrate lifespan extension, albeit in dogs, is Loyal, a biotech startup founded by Celine Halioua. Earlier this year, Loyal announced they had made progress with the FDA towards approval of the first clinical trial design to test healthspan and lifespan directly. The company is developing two drugs for canine aging (a drug targeting the IGF-1 pathway, and a caloric restriction mimetic). Loyal raised a $27M Series A in 2022.
There are other companies working on aging in dogs (and cats to a lesser extent): Rejuvenate Bio (a Church lab spinout developing combination gene therapies, also partial reprogramming), Trivium Vet (rapamycin formulation), and Genflow Biosciences (SIRT6 gene therapy for DNA repair). The Dog Aging Project, a large-scale academic investigation into aging in pet dogs co-founded by Matt Kaeberlein, will conduct a small trial of rapamycin in large breed dogs to see if it extends lifespan/healthspan.
All this is great news for dogs, and a successful demonstration of lifespan extension will attract more interest to the field. But the translatability to humans will still be an open question.
5. New aging biomarkers initiatives to measure aging and rejuvenation
The past year saw a number of new projects created around aging biomarkers and measuring aging – one of the outstanding challenges in the longevity field. Some highlights include:
Biomarkers of Aging Consortium: The Biomarkers of Aging Consortium was announced virtually at Foresight Institute in February this year. Founded by Mahdi Moqri (Stanford/Harvard), the consortium is an organization that brings together major stakeholders in the aging biology field to create a roadmap for characterization and validation of aging biomarkers. The ultimate goal is to develop robust aging biomarkers that could be eventually used for evaluating aging interventions. The Biomarkers of Aging Consortium’s first conference will be held at the Buck Institute in December.
ASTM Standards Task Group: In early May, at Zuzalu, Montenegro, Keith Comito (Founder of Lifespan.io) announced the ASTM International Task Group on Physiological Biomarker-Related Data Collection and Interoperation Standards. The initiative will form a committee to set standards on the collection of biomarker data and will involve major players across many industries including Disney, Lifespan.io, Pfizer, NIH, United Airlines, and many others.
Project Ordo (Cambrian Biopharma) At ARDD 2022, James Peyer, CEO of Cambrian Biopharma announced Project Ordo, an initiative to create standards and protocols around biomarker collection and aging biomarker discovery. Cambrian’s master plan hinges upon the development of an aging biomarker / surrogate endpoint through collection of clinical data from their portfolio of programs.
Rejuvenation Olympics / Blueprint: Finally, it’s also worth mentioning the work of Bryan Johnson, tech entrepreneur, and creator of Blueprint and co-founder of the Rejuvenation Olympics. The Olympics consists of a leaderboard of “rejuvenation athletes'' around the world competing to post the largest reversal of their “biological age” as measured by a TruDiagnostics DNA methylation test. These are essentially n=1 studies, but the aggregate data could be insightful.
6. The Longevity Heretics of Radical Replacement
At the Longevity Biotech Fellowship, we conducted a survey of 400 professionals working in aging biology and longevity biotech to get their estimates on which aging interventions would result in the biggest addition to lifespan over the next 5, 10, and 25 years.
On a 25 year time horizon there was one clear winner: Organ replacement.
Organ replacement is nothing new. The first kidney transplant was done in 1954. People have been working on tissue engineering in regenerative medicine since the 1990s. eGenesis, a George Church startup, has been working on xenotransplantation of organs from genetically-edited pigs since 2014.
However the paradigm to use radical replacement of the body (and brain, progressively) as a practical strategy to significantly extend maximum lifespan or even obviate aging has only been recently popularized by Jean Hebert, professor of genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In his seminal book “Replacing Aging”, Hebert argues that age-related molecular changes in the cell and the extracellular matrix are so complex that replacement of old tissue with young is the most practical full solution for aging. This could mean replacing anything from entire systems of interconnected organs to whole body replacement via head transplants (tried in primates in the 1970s with some interesting results).
Currently, a handful of longevity heretics like Jean Hebert are building companies to address aging with radical replacement. These include:
BE Therapeutics - A startup founded by Jean Hebert trying to replace the most difficult organ: the brain. The startup aims to progressively replace aged neocortical brain tissue with young iPSC-derived neural tissue.
Renewal Bio - Riding on the coattails of nature's developmental power, Renewal is a new startup developing synthetic embryoids and synthetic wombs as a scalable source of genetically identical cells, tissues, organs, and potentially even entire bodies. Renewal is a spinout from Jacob Hanna’s lab at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, co-founded by Omri Amirav-Drory, General partner at Nfx Bio.
And at least two other startups that are operating in stealth.
Although there are many technical challenges to radical replacement, they remain mostly in the realm of engineering and medical techniques, not basic science.
Perhaps the greater challenge is getting the general public to get over squeamishness on these approaches.
PSA: Someone needs to start a venture fund that focuses solely on radical replacement.
7. The Macroeconomics of the Longevity Winter
Longevity biotech funding is down, but so is everything.
The Fed controls the metric tensor of the financial universe, and none are safe from the Big Crunch when interest rates are hiked so quickly.
In late 2021, investment rounds were competitive. VCs were fighting to get into the hotter deals. Fast forward to today and it’s a complete 180 degree reversal.
Tech (except AI?) and biotech generally have suffered. Bruce Booth’s article on the biotech VC pullback estimates a near 66% decrease in 1Q investment compared to last year, according to data from Pitchbook. Also: A five-fold increase in down rounds, 50% decrease in the number of 1st financing rounds of new startups, and a 60% - 70% drop in investment from “crossover” investors from the public markets side from two years ago.
Not surprisingly, longevity biotech funding has also fallen significantly, perhaps as much as 70% - 80% compared to last year. Startups are having difficulty raising money. Longevity VCs are having trouble closing their funds.
All this doom and gloom is actually great news – if you’re an investor with dry powder. Valuations have come down and there’s much less competition for deals.
So let this be a call to action for mission-driven investors and opportunistic capitalists alike: It’s time to build.
8. And all the other stuff that happened:
I can’t possibly cover all of the last 15 months of the longevity industry in one post. But here are some additional notable headlines by category: financing rounds, investors, new co’s, and policy & culture:
VitaDAO: Jan 2023. $4.1M. Contributors of capital included Pfizer Ventures (!), Shine Capital, Balaji Srinivasan, among others. VitaDAO is a decentralized collective that funds and commercializes longevity research.
Morphoceuticals Inc . Feb 2023. $8M Seed. Round led by Prime Mover Labs and Juvenescence, this startup is building off the amazing bioelectric regeneration research of Michael Levin at Tufts in order to regenerate limbs in humans.
Gero x Pfizer. Jan 2023. Gero has partnered with big pharma company Pfizer to use their AI/ML and big data expertise to find targets for fibrotic disease. Gero, co-founded by hardcore theoretical physicist-turned aging biologist Peter Fedichev, is one of the most unique companies in the longevity space.
Juvena Therapeutics. Nov 2022. $41M Series A. Led by Mubadala, a UAE sovereign wealth fund. I see folks from Mubadala at longevity conferences often, more evidence of increased longevity interest in the Middle East states. Juvena Therapeutics uses ML to profile the secretome of stem cells to find rejuvenative therapeutic proteins.
Oviva Therapeutics. May 2022. $11.5M. A Cambrian Biopharma company aiming to slow ovarian aging using Anti-Mullerian hormone drugs. Co-founded by Daisy Robinton.
Entos Pharmaceuticals x Eli Lilly. Jan 2022. $50M. Partnership deal to use Entos’s non-viral gene delivery platform for CNS disease. Entos is not a longevity company per se, but the validation from pharma bodes well for their affiliated company Oisin Bio that is using the same gene delivery technology for aging indications.** I’ve recently become an investor in Oisin Bio.
Gameto. Jan 2022. $20M Series A. Drugs to improve IVF, slow ovarian aging, and treat menopause. Co-founded by Dina Radenkovic.
Life Biosciences. Jan 2022. $82M Series C. A DisCo umbrella company co-founded by David Sinclair. Subsidiary companies include Iduna Therapeutics (partial reprogramming), Selphagy (chaperone mediated autophagy), Continuum Bioscience (mitochondrial thermogenesis), among others.
+ others. For a complete list of financing rounds, check out my database at LongevityList.com
Amplifier Therapeutics. Mar 2023. A Cambrian Biopharma portfolio company targeting the AMPK nutrient sensing pathway to increase ATP production. Press release.
Pretzel Therapeutics. Sep 2022. ($72M Series A). An ARCH Ventures company developing a wide array of mitochondrial therapeutics including those to correct the mitochondrial genome.
Ora Biomedical - High throughput lifespan/healthspan assays of worms with robotics to find novel geroprotectors and combination therapies. Co-founded by Matt Kaeberlein.
Renewal Bio. Already mentioned earlier but just so damn cool. Synthetic embryoids and synthetic wombs for replacement of cells/tissues/organ, etc.
Tornado Therapeutics. Feb 2022. A Cambrian Biopharma daughter company developing novel mTOR inhibitors out-licensed from Novartis. Helmed by Joan Mannick. Basically a sequel to resTORbio, which failed under unfortunate circumstances.
+ others. For a complete list of companies check out my database at LongevityList.com
Optispan Ventures. Matt Kaeberlein, one of the foremost experts in the field of aging biology, stepped away from academia to work on venture building and investing through Optispan, a new firm he co-founded.
Life Extension Ventures. 100M fund investing in lifespan extension of humans and the planet. Co-founders: Inaki Berenguer, and Amol Sarva,
AthenaDAO - a decentralized collective funding and commercializing research in women’s health and reproductive lifespan.
CryoDAO - a decentralized collective funding and commercializing research in cryopreservation technologies.
New Nonprofit Orgs
Biomarkers of Aging Consortium. Feb 2023. A pan industry-academic effort to create a roadmap for the the characterization and validation of aging biomarkers for the use of evaluation aging interventions.
Say Forever! March 2023. A rapidly growing viral street campaign that gets the general public talking about indefinite healthspan.
Time Initiative. Apr 2023. A new fellowship program to onboard undergraduates into the longevity field. Funded by AFAR.
Phaedon Institute. April 2023. a new think tank in longevity biotech devoted to supporting the field of aging biology and the longevity industry. Initiated by Marco Quarta (CEO of Rubedo Life Sciences) and others.
Longevity Escape Velocity Foundation (LEVF). Dec 2022. A new foundation founded by Aubrey de Grey. They are conducting large-scale mouse lifespan experiments with combinations of interventions.
ARPA-H: $2.5B in funding over three years – a Biden administration DARPA-style agency whose mission is to accelerate innovation in health. ARPA-H’s first program announced last week (NITRO) aims to regenerate joint tissue.
Longevity Biotech Fellowship (2022). Our mission is to scale the amount of people working on longevity through our community and Fellowship program – a 3-day intensive workshop-retreat + 12-week online career path accelerator.
Rejuvenome cancelled? Originally meant to be a $70M project in partnership with the Buck Institute to do deep aging phenotyping + lifespan studies with combination therapies on mice. It appears the project will not be moving forward.
A4LI Longevity Science Caucus - A new bipartisan group of politicians devoted to advancing longevity policies in the United States Congress.
A4LI Advanced Approval Pathway for Longevity Medicines (AAPLM) - A proposal for improved regulatory paths for longevity therapeutics including: special approval track, priority review voucher system, and indication-by-indication patent term extensions.
Emphasis on Geroscience appears in the US Appropriations Bill. With special directions for the NIH, NIA, and FDA.
Join the Longevity Industry
Looking for jobs, companies, or investors in the longevity biotechnology industry? Check out my website LongevityList.com.
Not sure where to make the biggest impact on longevity? Apply to join the Longevity Biotech Fellowship!
Some of my projects, resources, and ways to support my mission. More projects coming…
Longevity Biotech Fellowship - Our mission is to scale the amount of people working on longevity through our community and Fellowship program – a 3-day intensive workshop-retreat + 12-week online career path accelerator.
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 - (not active) 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.
As much as people love to hate on Calico, but given their model perhaps expectations are too high? Many biotechs have a starting point built on decades+ of scientific work out of government-funded academia that Calico would need time to build up themselves.
It’s also entirely possible that Altos is waiting for the right time to announce their funders. Or perhaps their funders wish to avoid the limelight (hard to believe). I’m of the opinion that high profile investors give more legitimacy to the longevity industry. The funders of Altos refraining from publicly stepping up to say they are doing something about aging is a missed opportunity.
Perhaps more must be done to effectively communicate the moral imperative of working on aging to the public.
Which is crazy. That’s like saying SpaceX’s mission is satellite internet and landing a 5,000 ton rocket on Mars would be an “accidental consequence”. Okay I’m being a bit facetious.
At Future Forum in Aug 2022, Sam Altman told the audience that few companies are prepared for a future in 5 - 10 years where intelligence and energy are exponentially cheaper (due to AI + fusion). Retro is probably preparing for this future.
I would love to see the future longevity states and APRA-H / ARIA’s of the world fund more risky and ambitious stuff like this. Leave the mTOR inhibitors for the VCs.
Unity Biotechnology had a high-profile Phase 2 failure for a different senolytic drug to treat osteoarthritis in 2020, which put a bit of a damper on the field.
Yes, a lifespan trial in humans would be expensive (in the $billions?). Yes, patent lifetimes are a thing. But these limitations are not laws of physics. These problems have trivial solutions provided that there is sufficient political will for longevity.
Head transplants may seem weird, but so were kidney transplantations until people got used to them.
resTORbio’s failure is proof that we live in the most ironic simulation of the universe. The company was developing a mTOR inhibitor to improve the immune system of older adults. The FDA forced the company to change their Phase 3 endpoint to patient reported symptoms of respiratory infection instead of the original laboratory confirmed infection endpoint. The trial failed. But only a year later the COVID-19 pandemic happened and it was so difficult to contain precisely because it could spread asymptomatically.
I’ve heard Rejuvenome was cancelled partially due to cost but also that the funders (Astera), are focussing more on AI safety rather than longevity. This is a trend I’ve seen more and more of in the non-profit space.
Good to have you back writing!
Fantastic write-up Nathan! Really looking forward to future missives. Many thanks, Rick