$54,000
$22,320

Reason Launches Repair Biotechnologies, a Venture to Bring Rejuvenation Therapies to the Clinic: Chief Scientist Sought

Starting a company is a sizable commitment, made in order to produce a better future. With this in mind I have founded Repair Biotechnologies, a new venture that will focus on the development of gene therapies relevant to human rejuvenation. My partner in this, Bill Cherman, is an investor in our rejuvenation research community. He has supported a number of interesting startup biotechnology companies in the past few years, including several that I've also helped in one way or another. Together we intend to carry forward some of the most promising advances produced by the scientific community, picking the best of the many lines of research relevant to human rejuvenation undertaken in recent years. Given even a cursory glance through the Fight Aging! archives, you'll see that we are spoiled for choice: it is a great time to be working in this field.

We are in search of a Chief Scientist! If you have a scientific background in gene therapy, experience in the field, and a taste for the biotechnology startup life, then give some thought to joining our team. The role is a hands-on Chief Scientist: someone with an interest in building new gene therapies for the treatment of aging as a medical condition, and capable of running an ambitious biotechnology program from its earliest stages onward. A history of working through the US or European regulatory system of clinical trials would also be helpful, but is not required. If you are an entrepreneurially minded scientist who knows the ins and outs of modern gene therapy, then we would very much like to hear from you.

The many variants of gene therapy, alongside other novel, long-lasting methods of delivering proteins into cells, collectively form a technology platform that will power much of the future of medicine. This is particularly true for rejuvenation therapies. Just look at the SENS research portfolio: gene therapies are fundamental to, for example, the LysoSENS efforts to deliver enzymes capable of breaking down metabolic waste, or the MitoSENS project to copy mitochondrial genes into the cell nucleus. These are far from the only broad areas of development that are or can be built atop gene therapy, of course.

Out of the gate, our initial focus is on the development of gene therapies to spur regeneration of the thymus. This has the potential to restore production of T cells in older individuals, or other cases in which patients suffer from immunodeficiency and its consequences. The thymus is where T cells mature after their creation in the bone marrow, and its capacity places a limit on the rate at which new T cells take up their duties in the body. The thymus atrophies quite profoundly at the end of childhood, in a process called involution, cutting the rate of T cell creation dramatically. It then declines further over the course of adult life. This loss of function, and falling rate of T cell creation, is an important contribution to the age-related loss of immune function that makes old people frail and vulnerable in comparison to their younger counterparts. This isn't just a matter of defending against pathogens or responding to the yearly influenza vaccination: the immune system is also responsible for suppressing cancerous and senescent cells. All of these functions falter alongside the loss of active thymic tissue.

This can be reversed! It has been reversed in mice, and must now be brought to human medicine. We are embarking upon our first program of work in partnership with the team at Ichor Therapeutics, one of the success stories in the transition of our broader community of scientists and advocates from research to commercial development. Later, other lines of development are planned. Looking at the broader field, as defined in the SENS rejuvenation research proposals, there is a certainly a great deal to accomplish on the road ahead - from where we stand today, all the way to the advent of a comprehensive suite of first generation rejuvenation therapies. We aim to do our part and more in pushing the present state of the art towards that goal. Even in our starting point, consider that there is considerable promise in any meaningful degree of restoration of the aged immune system.

For now, the grand vision of what can be achieved through widespread availability of thymic regeneration therapies lies ahead, past many initial steps: pre-clinical development, clinical trials, validation. We are very excited to embark on this journey, towards the goal of bringing benefits to patients, the goal of turning back aspects of aging and age-related disease. Bill and I look forward to future success in this endeavor.

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Nothing in this post should be construed as an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any security or investment product. Certain information contained herein may contains statements, estimates and projections that are "forward-looking statements." All statements other than statements of historical fact in this post are forward-looking statements and include statements and assumptions relating to: plans and objectives of Repair Biotechnologies' management for future operations or economic performance; conclusions and projections about current and future economic and political trends and conditions; and projected financial results and results of operations. These statements can generally be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology including "may," "believe," "will," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "continue", "rankings" or other similar words. Repair Biotechnologies does not make any representations or warranties (express or implied) about the accuracy of such forward-looking statements. Accordingly, you should not place reliance on any forward-looking statements.

Comments

Good news indeed. Let me know when you have a website set up and we can add you to the community page at LEAF and if you like an interview about the company.

Posted by: Steve Hill at May 7th, 2018 11:07 AM

Regeneration of the thymus is a good idea. You will want to figure out ways to regenerate the lymphatic system as well. You'll want to do both to get a robust effect.

I am slowly becoming convinced that a lot of aging is nothing more than immuno-senescence. That and mtDNA damage. I think stuff like the lysosomal aggregate problem as well as that of crosslinks, are follow-on effects resulting from declined energy levels and immune system.

Posted by: Abelard Lindsey at May 7th, 2018 11:16 AM

DNA, mtDNA, and immuno-senescence are strongly supported in inflammaging/garbaging theories, also included in Hallmarks and SENS. We are drawing closer to a common understanding.

Posted by: Steve Hill at May 7th, 2018 11:19 AM

Reason, where are you located. I have been filming and editing a sequel to my picture
To Age Or Not Age. I have taped many of the prominent researchers, Guarante Sinclair Kenyon Austad Gorbanova The Conboys Aubrey Kennedy etc. I'm intrigued by the intersection of ideas of cleaning up damage versus a programed view, where in, given the right cues the body might fix itself. Apart from the removal of, for instance, senescent cells - in the case of Irina Conboy, normalizing certain blood components - a kind of damage removal - may induce the body's stem cells to begin making younger tissues. Anyway, it has occurred to me that
you might be an interesting interview. Through my interviews with Sinclair it has occurred to me that "damage removal" people like you and the more traditional scientist's approach may be merging. Bel Monte's work, Conboys' work - the body can be induced to do the heavy lifting.
I am based in NYC and Southampton.

Posted by: Robert Kane Pappas at May 7th, 2018 11:19 AM

Congratulations!

I had no idea what you have done for a living or had a biology background.

Steve, will the Lifespan.io conference be recorded and posted?

I would love to see the man who I've been reading and who's site I've been lurking on for years in the flesh.

GO REASON!

Posted by: Mark Borbely at May 7th, 2018 11:38 AM

@Mark, agreed, I would love to meet Reason, DeGray and others in the group.

@Steve Hill, thank you for the info on this presentation in NY. I would also love to meet you as well, Steve.

@Reason, I hope very much you (and your budding team) are successful and I assume you will keep us posted on this blog on how well this will be doing moving forward. If you are successful, we are all successful. Congratulations, Reason.

Posted by: Robert at May 7th, 2018 12:10 PM

Woohoo ! Now that's a big surprise - and a positive one !

Though the writing was on the wall I guess : first, report and ponder on rejuvenation for more than a decade ; then, invest in a few rejuvenation companies ; finally, start your own rejuvenation company as the whole field reaches sufficient maturity.

It's a sensible, logical progression. I'm so glad that this venture is co-founded by a strong proponent of the SENS approach. Whatever the outcomes (and I wish you the best), you're starting with the best possible approach both from a business and a "socio-scientific" point of view : repairing the not-well-understood as opposed to trying to master the fundamental biological processes, will ensure a quicker time-to-market and thereby save more lives.

As an aside, I hope you'll take up Robert's offer for an interview :) You fill several roles within the community (reporter/investor/founder), and the roles which activists play in the overall rejuvenation field isn't well understood. For the sake of completeness, I think it'd be nice if you could give your own testimony - along with those of the more well-known scientists.

Posted by: Spede at May 7th, 2018 12:52 PM

Great news and thymus is a good first pick. And you might be able to connect your angle to other regenerative approaches as well.

Posted by: Attila Csordas at May 7th, 2018 12:52 PM

Kind words are appreciated, all.

As mentioned, I'll be at the LEAF conference in July, and I'll follow up with @Robert Kane Pappas.

Posted by: Reason at May 7th, 2018 2:01 PM

Wow, what a surprise! I wish you the best luck!

Posted by: Antonio at May 7th, 2018 2:11 PM

Reason, congratulations. If you start a commercial venture it means you see profitable practical applications in a few years. Wow, that means not only I but even my parents have a chance of living long enough to benefit from the treatments.

Posted by: Cuberat at May 7th, 2018 2:40 PM

Don't commit treason
support reason
or you'll be freezin
alll season

Posted by: bmack500 at May 7th, 2018 2:45 PM

@Reason, my sincere congratulations!

Posted by: Ariel at May 7th, 2018 5:58 PM

@Mark Borbely: We are hoping to be able to record at least some of the talks from the conference, details, and logistics are being worked out currently.

Posted by: Steve Hill at May 7th, 2018 6:15 PM

Hi Reason, how strong benefit would you expect from a replacement with a brand new thymus? A after all there are people living without thymus, albeit with somewhat worse immune system

Do you think that a thymus could be printed assembledd from organoids?

Can a secondary thymus be implanted in other places in the body?

Posted by: Cuberat at May 7th, 2018 7:04 PM

@Cuberat: In humans, T cells live a really long time, several years or more. In old people, most T cell creation happens out in the periphery of the body. That's how adults lacking a functional thymus get by, though as you point out, not in a great way. Young people without a functional thymus have some form of severe immunodeficiency, and typically don't do well at all.

Given what we know about how mouse life span effects translate to humans, it is anyone's guess as to what the result on human life span would be - just the same as for senolytics, we've really no idea. It isn't even clear what the result on mouse life span is for thymus restoration, as I don't think anyone has run that study yet. That is somewhere on our to-do list. It is best, I feel, to aim for functional improvement - and removal of damage - and let the rest take care of itself.

Functional thymus tissue can absolutely be printed or made as organoids. That has been done, and the researchers behind Lygenesis have put thymus organoids into the lymph nodes and shown restoration of immune function in mice that way. They are not focused on that initially in their company, unfortunately.

Posted by: Reason at May 7th, 2018 7:25 PM

Great news. The thymus seems an excellent place to start, given the work that has already been done to stimulate the thymus in HIV-positive people. Once therapies to restore the thymus in the young immunocompromised become mainstream, it should be easier to get support for restoring the thymus in the elderly. Given the toll pneumonia takes on the frail elderly this really shouldn't be up for debate, but you know how hidebound people can be.

It's also encouraging that you believe the field has matured to the point where you can take this leap.
I've been reading your blog for years but haven't commented until recently, thanks for all your efforts during the early years when the snowball was still rather small.

Posted by: Chris at May 7th, 2018 8:22 PM

How do you propose to deal with fibrosis in the lymph nodes?

https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/ua-lab-seeks-holy-grail-gerontology

""Although T-cells still enter the lymph system in older people, the scant T-cells that are produced can't readily enter the lymph nodes. "The reason for that is the lymph nodes are undergoing profound changes with aging," Nikolich-Zugich says."

Posted by: Jim at May 7th, 2018 11:15 PM

Wow, exciting stuff. Congratulations Reason on having the guts to put your money where you mouth is and I wish you and your venture every success.

Posted by: Mark at May 8th, 2018 4:04 AM

@Jim Fibrosis is driven at least in part by inflammation, so an improved immune system may reduce that inflammation and thus fibrosis severity. We don't know, let's find out.

Posted by: Steve Hill at May 8th, 2018 5:15 AM

@Jim: How do we propose to deal with the lymph node issue? Later. The evidence in mice strongly suggests significant benefits even without this. And if you look at the bigger picture, the thymus is just one part of another two or three core items that need to be addressed for complete immune restoration. The R&D community also needs to fix the decline in hematopoietic stem cell populations and clear out the malfunctioning immune cells in the peripheral population, for example. Each of these is enough for one startup to focus on at the outset, or to be picked up as a significant new line of development by an established company. Success would allow us to start rolling into these and other necessary lines of work, or to partner with those groups who are already working on it.

Posted by: Reason at May 8th, 2018 7:17 AM

@Reason,
I would say that printed organoids put into lymph nodes sound look safer than "genetic therapy" even if you induce pluripotency using virus vectors. The fact the organoids are printed and somewhat mature reduces significantly the risk of teratoma. And if it can be implanted in any lymph node it is safe to inject or remove of the things go wrong. The treatment initially will be costly as it requires several visits, then lab work to culture patient specific cells, printing and surgically implanting. And there will be folio la follow up visits. But once the procedure details are wired out it will be as comparable to youth braces or tooth crown. Probably as complex as tooth implant. Not a walk in the park but doable if worth it.

On the other hand if you can inject factors that can improve thymus work the procedure would be much simpler but if the things go wrong you have less options. And might take longer to develop the exact protocol and factors. Since you are staying a commercialization it means you have done your homework and concurred various options.

Posted by: Cuberat at May 8th, 2018 7:41 AM

@Reason, You have said "Unfortunately, the standard regulatory path is the only fairly reliable way to put a therapy in the hands of large numbers of patients. The other, ethically far better paths, such as that pursued by BioViva, have the unfortunate outcome of great uncertainty in whether patients will ever be able to use the treatment in large numbers."

1) Hovewer, BioViva are building now the whole platform for medical tourism. Given that rejuvenation therapies is more service than a product their way looks much more promising. You just licence your techonolgy to BioViva and they do all the work in delivering therapy to the patients.

FDA path does not guarantee your therapy being put into the clinics. In fact Big Pharma company which will make final KT and other expensive things may just delay all the process for 10 years easily. We can see such a fate for Pentraxin. Where are they after all so amazing trials 3 years ago? Anyway, what is better -- make your therapy available within 5 years via medical tourism for small group of people, or choose FDA way and make your therapy available within 10 - 15 years for mere less small group of people? Because one will be approved only for 'specific diseases' and not for ageing.

2) What do you think of parallel processes. Two companies -- one for USA, one for medical tourism. Inside the USA you follow FDA way, outside the USA you licence your therapy unoficially for clinics via your offshore company.

Posted by: Ariel at May 8th, 2018 4:09 PM

@Ariel: BioViva are trying, and good for them, but the job is far bigger than they alone can achieve. It needs a whole community of non-profits, companies, and others to build a viable alternative that will be acceptable to venture funding sources.

The FDA isn't a guarantee, indeed. But getting past it means widespread availability.

The challenge with running two companies and two licensing programs is doing it in a way that doesn't negatively affect the regulatory path.

Posted by: Reason at May 8th, 2018 4:19 PM

@Reason, thank you for your answer! Do you believe that finaly a viable alternative will be build or all efforts of BioViva are uselles because FDA will change faster (very unbelievable, though)? How do running regulatory path and licensing program in for exmaple, Mexico or Venezuela can negatively affect the regulatory path in the USA? By the way, you can publish your protocols so people will be able to experiment and make therapy for yourself at their own risk, without legally affecting you.

Posted by: Ariel at May 8th, 2018 4:40 PM

@Ariel: I think that ultimately a viable alternative will arise, but it is hard to say what form it will take at this time. The most plausible is probably a smaller nation state deciding to compete through regulatory arbitrage to attract biotech investment, and that snowballing into a major influence.

Posted by: Reason at May 8th, 2018 4:52 PM

Congratulations & best wishes!

Posted by: CD at May 9th, 2018 10:48 AM

I'm wondering... will you use a transient gene therapy (like Oisin's) or a permanent gene therapy (like CRISPR)?

Posted by: Antonio at May 9th, 2018 11:16 AM

Congratulations and thank you for all your efforts! Hope you succeed as soon as possible. Your success is our success.

Posted by: Maneh at May 12th, 2018 12:13 PM

Good news and congratulations. It would be nice to maybe also complement with the efforts Greg Fahy is producing toward thymus rejuvenation even if strategies might differ. At the end we all want the same thing. Good luck!

Posted by: albedo at May 13th, 2018 12:10 PM

Hello Reason, i am "old", so i appreciate this "good news" and look forward to benefiting from your efforts.

Posted by: Alfred Schickentanz at May 13th, 2018 1:24 PM

After you whittle your way down from Chief Scientist to Lab Manager, may I be the first applicant for the position?

Posted by: Lab Scut Monkey at May 14th, 2018 11:02 AM

Congrats Reason! Thank you for all of your insight and for taking on this challenge. I look forward to following your work, hopefully participating in some way and taking advantage of your findings.

Posted by: ANJI GREENE at June 19th, 2018 12:57 PM

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