This article includes a brief history of how the senolytic suicide gene therapy company Oisin Biotechnologies came about. Oisin Biotechnologies was one of the first senolytics biotech startups, of which there are now many, one of the first longevity industry companies, and launched at a time in which it was still quite hard to persuade investors that treating aging as a medical condition was a legitimate line of work. That was actually just a few years ago now, 2015 as seen in the rear view mirror, and matters have changed rapidly since then. At the present time there are perhaps 50 to 100 startup biotech companies that we might categorize as being in the longevity industry, and there is enough interest from investors for it to be comparatively easy to raise funds for any credible approach. Still, this is only the very first stage of what will grow to be a truly massive industry in the years ahead.
Matthew Scholz is co-founder and CEO of Oisín Biotechnologies. When asked what led him to focus on aging, Scholz responds, "Aging has been on my mind for a long time. Even at Immusoft, my long-term goal for the platform was to recreate the biochemical environment of youth in old age. I reasoned that it would never be possible to take enough drugs to accomplish this but, if you can program the body, you can do anything."
It wasn't until a chance meeting at a Health Extension Salon sponsored by Joe Betts-LaCroix in 2012, however, that Oisín Biotechnologies was first conceived. Judy Campisi took the stage to present her work at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the results of a recent mouse study. She explained how researchers had created transgenic mice in which senescent cells could be easily cleared with an otherwise innocuous drug. Scholz thought the results were amazing but didn't think it was a feasible approach from a clinical perspective. He leaned over to the guy sitting next to him - Gary Hudson - and said, "That's amazing, but I would do it totally differently."
That comment led to drinks at the bar, where Scholz explained to Hudson his strategy. And that conversation led to a collaboration that would become Oisín Biotechnologies. Gary Hudson not only liked what Scholz had to say, he also knew Dave Gobel at the Methuselah Foundation. And Gobel and the Methuselah Foundation were eager to fund Scholz's proof of principle.