Vast Funding is Available for the Later Stages of Development of any Credible Therapy that Addresses a Cause of Aging

Today I'll point out a couple of recent news items that illustrate there is no funding drought for any group that manages to bring a credible approach to addressing one of the causes of aging to the point of human clinical trials. This is the case even when it is generally understood by all involved that the therapies in question are first generation attempts at implementation, subject to all the normal challenges that brings, and in principle not as good as competing forms of technology that are still at an earlier stage in the process of development. The drought lies in the number of groups who can make it to this stage, because there are never enough entrepreneurs, and the issues with fundraising are all further back in the pipeline: it is hard to raise funds for research into most means of rejuvenation, and it is hard to raise funds at the early startup stage, though that second point is rapidly becoming easier with the growth in the number of incubators focused on biotechnology and aging. Look at YC Bio, for example, or Age 1.

(That it takes a ridiculous amount of funding to pass regulatory hurdles on the way to the clinic is an entire and separate topic for discussion. The task of proving that a treatment works and quantifying the risk of using it to a satisfactory level simply doesn't cost more than a small fraction of the amount that the FDA forces it to cost. Everything above that much lower amount is unnecessary waste, the standard corrosion of efficiency produced by the incentives of a large bureaucratic organization, one whose managers are more interested in practice in perpetuating their positions, expanding their powers, and minimizing bad press than in advancing the state of medicine).

The two groups I'll point out today are Unity Biotechnology, working on pharmaceutical means of senescent cell clearance, and Eidos Therapeutics, who are bringing a therapy for transthyretin amyloidosis to the clinic. In the case of Unity Biotechnology, the better technology and earlier stage competitor is represented by Oisin Biotechnologies, who field a programmable cell killing gene therapy that is in principle a considerable improvement over pharmaceuticals. For Eidos Therapeutics, who are putting forward a therapy that would have to be taken continuously to suppress the creation of harmful amyloid, the earlier, better competing approach is typified by the work of Covalent Bioscience, working on a class of therapy that would clear out the amyloid rather than suppressing its creation. Thus treatment would have to be undertaken less often, and would be more helpful for people further along in the process of accumulating amyloid. All this said, there is of course the point that the better therapy at this moment is the one you can take advantage of today, not the one you wish you could take advantage of today.

Unity Biotechnology has pulled in quite the sizable amount of funding in the past year; they start to look more like a finance operation with a sideline in rejuvenation research than a dedicated biotechnology company. That they are now filing for an IPO before announcing any human clinical trial results is, it has to be said, unusually rapid. But if they can raise the funds and put them to good use, good for them - they have declared ambitions to move beyond senolytics to address other mechanisms of aging, which is certainly a good reason to have a sizable pool of funding. Any successful biotechnology company in one of the fields relevant to the SENS view of aging, damage, and rejuvenation could do a great deal to advance all of the others as well, as the cost of early stage progress is small in comparison to the amounts being raised for later clinical development. We'll see how it turns out once the dust has settled.

Unity Biotechnology files for $85M IPO to take anti-aging drugs into phase 1

Unity Biotechnology has filed for an $85 million IPO. Hitting the target would bring the preclinical anti-aging startup's fundraising haul up toward $300 million and set it up to move two assets into the clinic. Unity last tapped private investors last month with a $55 million series C round. But it is already after its next financial hit. This time, Unity wants public investors to buy into its experimental ideas.

The $85 million IPO would secure Unity's financial future into 2020. Over that period, Unity plans to move two drugs into human testing. Lead program UBX0101, an inhibitor of the MDM2-p53 protein interaction, is due to begin testing in osteoarthritic patients in the next couple of months. UBX1967, an inhibitor of certain Bcl-2 apoptosis regulatory proteins, will arrive in the clinic next year. Unity's initial target indications for the drugs - osteoarthritis and an ophthalmologic disease - reflect its strategy for making the daunting task of tackling aging more manageable. The indications enable Unity to start out administering its drugs locally, before expanding into diseases that require systemic treatment if the early trials validate its approach. Systemic administration would open up indications related to the aging of the heart, kidney, and liver.

Whatever the route of administration, Unity will seek to slow or reverse aging by targeting cellular senescence. This process sees cells halt division, leading to the accumulation of senescent cells and secretion of inflammatory factors, proteases, and other proteins. Unity thinks the proteins disturb tissues and trigger senescence in other cells, leading to the emergence of aged or diseased tissues. A lot of questions remain unanswered, though. All biotechs face uncertainties going into the clinic for the first time, but few pocket more than $200 million and then swing for $85 million IPOs before generating human data. With the delivery of that data still on the horizon, the IPO is a test of investors' willingness to put their faith in a management team and founding investor that have delivered in the past - and the appeal of a big idea.

Eidos Therapeutics completes $64M Series B financing

Eidos Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing a novel oral therapy to treat transthyretin (TTR) amyloidosis (ATTR), today announced a $64.0 million Series B financing. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Eidos' small molecule product candidate, AG10, into Phase 2 clinical trials and to continue preparations for Phase 3 clinical trials. AG10 targets ATTR at its source by potently binding and stabilizing TTR tetramers, the destabilization of which underlies the development of ATTR. The Series B financing brings the total capital raised by Eidos to approximately $91.0 million.

"Our clinical data demonstrate that AG10 has a safe, well-tolerated profile and is able to stabilize 100% of plasma TTR at peak concentrations and provide average levels of stabilization greater than 95% at steady-state. Given that increasing levels of stabilization have yielded progressively better clinical results in past trials, our near-complete levels of stabilization suggest that AG10 could be a best-in-class solution. We are targeting ATTR at its source by stabilizing TTR, an approach that is validated by genetics and clinical data."

Comments

Was there any news out of the Undoing Aging conference on Covalent Bioscience? I think they sent an employee to speak.

Posted by: Jim at April 9th, 2018 10:15 PM

I would like to propose a couple of questions.
On the one hand it would be interesting for all those interested in supporting anti-aging research, to have a list of the groups that are already investigating as well as what their line of research is and, similarly, of those that try to initiate an investigation and in what line. I think that it would stimulate the support of specific projects, without prejudice to the support of a common fund.
On the other hand, I would like to request that this page, with all the information and possibilities to support anti-aging research, be originally published also in Spanish so that many millions of people can be informed and support this project.
Thank you very much.
Quisiera proponer un par de cuestiones.
Por una parte sería interesante para todos los interesados en apoyar la investigación anti envejecimiento, disponer de un listado de los grupos que ya están investigando así como cúal es su línea de investigación y, de forma similar, de aquellos que intentar iniciar una investigación y en qué línea. Creo que estimularía el que se pudieran apoyar proyectos concretos sin perjuicio de que, quien lo quiera, apoye un fondo común.
Por otra parte quiero solicitar que esta página, con toda la información y las posibilidades para apoyar la investigación anti envejecimiento, sea editada originalmente también en español para que muchos millones de personas puedan informarse y apoyar este proyecto.
Muchas gracias.

Posted by: Antonio at April 10th, 2018 2:21 AM

The moment there is a treatment that works in humans there will be lineups for it. Hell, I would be there repeating the meme "shut up and take my money"

Let's say you have have a product, let it be senescent cells clearer, that makes the skin look younger but might have unknown side effects on the brain in a few decades. It will be used and abused all over the place.

Posted by: Cuberat at April 10th, 2018 6:11 AM

"That it takes a ridiculous amount of funding to pass regulatory hurdles on the way to the clinic..."

Qui bono?

{Big pharma & people using the 'revolving door'}

Posted by: CD at April 10th, 2018 9:47 AM

@Cuberat, "that makes the skin look younger but might have unknown side effects on the brain in a few decades" -- this is nearly impossible because SENS approach is usually 'metabolism - inert', all it does is to remove structural damage.

Posted by: Ariel at April 10th, 2018 11:47 AM

@Ariel,
I was talking more about the market forces. Let's image a super model getting older. You can do some plastic surgery, some photoshop and makeup. But you know you are getting older and when your carrier and the whole definition of how you perceive yourself is threatened you will take any chance to delay the onset of the aging. So, no FDA-approved skin treatments that works. It could be even risky. Let's say you have 2% chance of dying. You will take the chance.

Same goes for the sports professionals. A risky procedure that can keep you on top for a few more years... Hell yes!. After all, that's why we have steroids and doping.

So there is a real market even for the riskiest procedures even for small cosmetic improvements. And I am not talking about of curing cancer but having 20% chance of dying. The moment the success rate goes above a few percent there will be huge push to use those therapies. And with the venture capital investing in all kind of weird enterprises we are not too far. Probably in 5 years we will have the same market waves as we can now witness for bitcoins. Beauty and cosmetics market alone is a few billion dollars in US. The moment there is a glimmer of hope of a working therapy in humans the floodgates will open and there will be nothing stopping the investment money. And with enough money one can setup the testing facilities in friendlier jurisdictions and bring back to US/OECED only the pre-validated therapies which will be guaranteed to get FDA approval. So the general availability might be slow, but just in a few years there will be all kinds of medical and research tourism. There will be big bubbles and some irresponsible companies will have high-profile failures. Something similar to what we can see about the self-driving cars. One proof of concept is enough to wet the investors appetite. And if Unity Biotechnology can deliver something working for humans all this money will just rush in...

Posted by: cuberat at April 10th, 2018 1:44 PM

@cuberat, yeah, and this is wonderful!

Posted by: Ariel at April 10th, 2018 5:08 PM

So to get back to the original post, did anyone find out the news on Covalent? This could be a prime opportunity for investment by the M Fund and individuals.

Posted by: Morpheus at April 11th, 2018 1:07 AM

What's Unity's stock symbol or what is it going to be? Do we know yet?

Posted by: Nathan at April 11th, 2018 1:21 PM

@Cuberat, @Ariel,
It is even worse than that:
as pointed out by Jim Falloon in his presentations, the medical field is improving its practice at a snailing pace. Stuff showed in studies 50 years ago was not pursued until recently; therapies already researched and proved take two decades to be introduced as a standard practice.

This type of problems stinks. And it is the stink of statism/socialism. The government, thru many interventions, take away many incentives to improve the treatments and seek better treatments.

If we want to speed up the development and deployment of new, better therapies, we must work on the research side of rejuvenation and life extension AND ways to increase personal freedom and economic prosperity.

Vitalik Buterin and others gave a lot of money to de Grey's SENS research. The field of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies is producing a lot of young and wealthy people unafraid of breaking away (forking) from the government approved path. If in the next few years, they grow wealthier and more powerful, they will be able to set up shops outside the reach of governments (seasteading?) and accelerate the speed of development in many fields.

We MUST take advantage of this revolution to allow permissionless innovation in Life Extension and Rejuvenation.

Posted by: Mirco Romanato at April 15th, 2018 1:04 PM

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