The 5 Aging Startups Backed by Longevity Fund – Nanalyze

August 30th, 2017 10:41 am

Nothing is certain except death and taxes, said Benjamin Franklin, andhis words still hold true today. While there are ways to mitigate the effects of taxes like Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, death is coming and our days are numbered. It seems like quite the taboo topic that nobody wants to talk about. One nurse who did an informal survey found that the number one regret from people on their deathbeds was I wish I lived my life the way I wanted to and not the way other people wanted me to live it. If thats not an option for you, thenmaybe you need more time on this earth to sort yourself out. Quite a few startups are addressing theholy grail of cracking aging, an idea which supersedes every other startup idea out there. While extending the lifespan of humans may not be the best idea for this planet, quite a few people would happily slap down some cash for some extra years on this planet so they can live as long as some of the Asians do:

Source (data as of 2014)

Weve looked at various aging startups before like Human Longevity, and Calico. When it comes to the ideal leadership profile for a company thats focused on aging, were split between having an old experienced executive who is increasingly aware of theirown morality versus a younger millennial filled with the endless optimism and naive ambition that typically characterizes youth of all generations. One good example of someone in the latter categorytackling theproblem of aging is Laura Deming. While all the news outlets are (appropriately) fawning all overthe profile of Ms. Deming, an MIT dropout who started working on the fund before she was old enough to smoke cigarettes, were more interested in where she has placed her bets so far. According to Longevity Funds website, theyve made investments in 5 startups so far. We didnt see anyone talking about what investments she has made, so were going to sort that out right now.

Unity Biotechnology first came across our radar earlier this year in an article we wrote about life extension science (a label thats much preferred over anti-aging). Since this San Francisco startup was founded in 2009, theyve taken in $154 million in funding with the latest round, a $35 million Series B, closing just 10 days ago (actually a continuation of a $116 Series B that started in Fall of 2016). According to Unity, that $151 million Series B is said to be one of the largest private financing rounds in biotech history. Loads of highprofile investors haveprovided all this funding including Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Peter Thiel of Founders Fund, Mayo Clinic, and Fidelity just to name some.

Healthy cells that age can experience a stress known as cellular senescence. Unity published research in April of this year showing that they can selectively eliminate senescent cells with a molecule (UBX0101) that may delay, prevent, or even reverse osteoarthritis (OA) which causes chronic joint pain in 80% of people over 65.

Precision Biosciences first came across our radar in an article we publisheda few years back on7 Gene Editing Companies Investors Should Watch. Since that article, 3 of those companies have gone publicand Precision Biosciences has taken in $25.65 million in total funding, all of which came in the form of a Series A which saw participation from Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Baxter (NYSE:BAX). Their platform revolves around ARCUS, a next-generation genome editing platform derived from a natural genome editing enzyme called a homing endonuclease. Heres how this technology can be used:

Genetics certainly comes into play when we think about life expectancy so its easy to see how this company fits the anti aging investment thesis.

Founded in 2015, San Francisco startup Alexo Therapeutics has taken in $61 million in funding so far to develop ALX148, a fusion protein that is supposed to improve the effectiveness of antibody therapies that are used to fight cancer. Since cancer is a leading cause of death, that may be why this company falls into an anti aging portfolio. Of course the same could be said for just about any healthcare company. The ALX148 protein is based off of research conducted at Stanford University which also happens to be an investor in this startup. On April of this year, they initiated dosing in a Phase 1 clinical program that is evaluating the safety of ALX148 in patients with advanced solid tumors and lyphoma.

Founded in 2015 as well, San Diego startup Metacrine has taken in $36 million in funding so far from investors that includevenBio (also an investor in Alexo Therapeutics and Precision Biosciences). The companys focus is on advancing research in nuclear hormone receptors for the treatment of metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The technology is based on research conducted Salk Institute researcher Ron Evanswho has founded many companies in the past including co-founding Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:LGND). Its safe to say that if metabolic diseases cause you to die early, then curing them amounts to increasing your longevity. Just a few weeks ago, Metacrine announced a collaboration with Novo Nordisk(NYSE:NVO) to develop Fibroblast Growth Factor 1 (FGF1) variants for glucose lowering and insulin sensitization.

Founded in 2014,Massachusetts startup Navitor Pharmaceuticals has taken in $56.5 millionso far from investors that include Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). The startup is working on a new class of medicines for age-related diseases, and an article by FierceBiotech does a good job of explaining what Navitor does for people with no medical background. Cells in your body get hungry like you do, and there is a protein kinase called mTOR that controls their appetites. When something goes wrong with this process, bad isht happens like metabolic, neurological, inflammatory diseases, and even neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimers disease. Thanks to some discoveries by Whitehead Institute researcher David Sabatini, Navitor can now target mTORC1 which plays the biggest role in cell growth.

Longevity Fund spent 6 months evaluating the merits of each investment, and all these aging startups picked so far have some commonalities. All have raised more than $25 millionand all are backed by high profile investors with venBio backing three of thesefive startups. While we need to wait and see what other investments are raised, its toughto see how any of these investments could have been made without connections (like Peter Thiel). Ms. Deming is the youngest fellow in the history of Peter Thiel Fellowships, and thats what triggered her to put her MIT education on hold. With 3-5 startupsleft for Longevity to invest in yet, it will be interesting to see what other aging startupsthey choose for their portfolio.

One firm that allows you to buy shares in startups before they IPO is Motif Investing. You can open a Motif Investing account for free with no deposit required so you are ready to buy shares of future IPOs before they begin trading.

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The 5 Aging Startups Backed by Longevity Fund - Nanalyze

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