The Longevity International project of the Aging Analytics Agency arises from the Biogerontology Research Foundation / Deep Knowledge Ventures portion of our growing community. The various companies and non-profit initiatives associated with this part of the community - such as In Silico Medicine and the International Aging Research Portfolio - share a focus on data. Those involved are now possessed of quite a lot of information about funding, technologies, and just who is doing what in the research community and market of young biotechnology companies. Thus the Aging Analytics Agency is a consultancy that aims to put to use this domain knowledge of the current field. The intended audience is venture firms and large companies with a newfound interest in medicine to treat aging, currently drawn in to the field by the present flurry of development in senolytics and other areas of rejuvenation biotechnology.
For today, I wanted to point out the Longevity Industry Landscape Overview for 2017, though there are other interesting materials to look through. The perspective of the authors is that of the Hallmarks of Aging rather than the SENS view of the causes of aging, but we can appreciate the points of overlap - the acknowledgement that aging has root cause forms of cell and tissue damage, and that the way forward is to address that damage. If the battle to make progress moves on to a hard-fought, evidence-based argument over which forms of damage are legitimate root causes and how best to tackle them, then that is a big improvement over the present state of affairs, in which the primary issue is the need to convince many more people that aging is a viable target for medicine at all, and that human rejuvenation is a plausible near future goal if we just put more funding into the right sort of existing lines of research.
The term "geroscience" was coined by the US National Institute on Aging, to mean "the field of biological sciences that seeks to understand the role of aging in disease." Of the total $1.6B annual NIA budget, only $183.1M goes to fundamental "Aging Biology", with the majority going to Alzheimer's and particular age-related diseases. The application of fundamental knowledge generated by geroscientists is enabling the development of therapies that prevent and/or reverse the molecular and cellular damage caused by aging. By slowing or reversing the aging process, all age-related diseases can be addressed, leading to a healthy lifespan ("healthspan") extension.
Rejuvenation biotechnology is the translational, clinical, and applied relative of geroscience. This discipline aims to prevent and repair the fundamental damage that causes aging. This damage can include: somatic DNA damage, telomere attrition, transposon-related genomic instability, reduced autophagy and protein turnover, epigenetic drift, stem cell exhaustion, advanced glycation endproducts, and more.
The global population is aging due to longer life (albeit in poor health) and the decision among Westerners to have fewer children. This is a major problem for government healthcare and pension systems. Economists refer to this profound, historically-unprecedented population shift as "The Silver Tsunami." The best way to prevent such a catastrophe for these systems is by slowing or reversing aging itself. Doing so extends the expected healthy lifespan and reduces the number of years each person spends in a socially costly state of chronic ill health and frailty.
The traditional medical model has worked very well for particular acute conditions such as infection and traumatic injury. We are no longer dying from infection, as was the leading cause of death a century ago. Chronic lifestyle and age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and dementia have become the leading killers in the West. Modern medicine has struggled to address these multifactorial diseases. Given that biological age is the primary risk factor, it makes sense to target the damage that causes aging rather than downstream symptoms.
There are two kinds of drugs: type A, innovative blockbuster, first-in-class, broad market drugs such as statins, antidepressants, and lifestyle drugs; type B, incremental best-in-class or "me too" drugs that offer superior safety or efficacy over existing molecules but do not target a novel biochemical mechanism. Rejuvenation therapy will be of type A. Because everyone ages, anti-aging drugs will have the widest market of any other drug. The disruptive element of rejuvenation biotechnology is that it will displace therapies targeting age-related diseases. Suppose a gene therapy (such as APOE4 or FOXO3A) reverses cardiovascular aging and atherosclerosis. Few will need statin drugs (including atorvastatin, the best selling pharmaceutical in history, generating $125B over 14.5 years for Pfizer). Similarly, why try to selectively kill cancer cells when medicine can repair the DNA damage, quell chronic inflammation ("inflammageing"), and reverse the immune senescence that causes cancer rates to rise so dramatically with age?
Biotechnology and geroscience in particular are on the verge of a Cambrian explosion of breakthrough science that will transform healthcare into an information science capable of improving the human condition more profoundly than even the advent of antibiotics, modern molecular pharmacology, and the Green agricultural revolution. The time-course of this major evolutionary transition and whether we and our loved ones live long enough to benefit from these breakthroughs is dependent upon the choices of the scientific and investment community today.