Most Core Longevity Industry Venture Investment Vehicles are Companies, Not Funds

The prevailing model for the investment vehicles at the core of the longevity industry is the business development company, not the venture fund. The canonical example is Juvenescence, while the Longevity Vision Fund and Life Biosciences look very similar, and, as noted here, Cambrian Biopharma - that started out as a venture fund, as I recall - is now following the same playbook. The objective of a venture fund is to exist for a set period of time, invest in startups, and return gains to investors at the end of that time. The objective of a business development company is to go public. This difference in objectives tends to steer groups like Juvenescence and Cambrian towards creating a family of owned companies, via founding startups or purchasing controlling majority stakes in existing ventures, and participating actively in the management of those companies. New Big Pharma entities will likely emerge from this approach, as the industry grows, and the first rejuvenation therapies prove their worth in the clinic.

Cambrian Biopharma, a distributed drug discovery company, exited stealth today with the announcement that it has raised $60 million in private financing to develop medicines to extend healthy lifespan. By working like a hub-and-spoke model to develop a family of companies, Cambrian hopes to promote a thriving environment, building expert teams in drug discovery, development, clinical trials, finance, and market analysis as a shared resource for each pipeline company to use.

"I think that there's a lot of opportunity in this space and one of the things that we really need is companies that can move fast with a lot of capital. Hallmarks of aging, as well as other types of molecular damage that accumulate in our bodies as we get older, are in scope for Cambrian, we are really building an R&D company first, one that's making allocation decisions, not investments across a series of our pipeline companies."

This longevity platform approach is very much like Juvenescence and Life Biosciences and is another welcome demonstration of longevity investment category growth. Cambrian scientists are targeting the nine hallmarks of aging, including cellular senescence, sustained tissue inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction. They are leveraging breakthroughs in fields that include immunology, genomics, and epigenetics, and technologies that range from gene editing to new stem cell therapies.

Cambrian has put three major categories of aging at the top of its to-do list; it plans to tackle intracellular dysfunction (things that go wrong inside cells, such as mutating DNA or shrinking telomeres), cellular dysfunction (whole-cell level problems, such as senescence or energy pathway break down) and tissue level dysfunction (stem cells exhaustion, chronic inflammation, or the breakdown of tissue architecture). To date, Cambrian has 14 novel therapies under development within its stable of companies. The first of these to be disclosed is Sensei Bio, which has as its lead therapeutic product candidate a genetically engineered bacteriophage vaccine that has already demonstrated promising data in a Phase 1/2 human clinical trial of patients with late-stage head and neck cancer.