Cambrian Biopharma started as a venture fund, but is a business development company now. The most important difference between those two business models is that a fund waits for startup companies to form and be ready for investment, while a development company sets out to create startups. The longevity industry is still comparatively small, and the arrival of new investment opportunities is thought by many, including the Cambrian Biopharma principals, to be too sparse to sustain larger funds. The solution, in an environment rich with promising scientific projects, is to create those opportunities: bring together scientists and entrepreneurs, license the relevant technologies from the universities, and fund the resulting startup company.
As noted in today's publicity materials, Cambrian has assembled a sizable fund, joining other large funds and business development companies such as the Longevity Vision Fund, Life Biosciences, Juvenescence, and Kizoo Technology Ventures. As Juvenescence and the Longevity Vision Fund illustrate, much of the investment in the early stages of growing the longevity industry has gone to less promising projects, or biotech and medical opportunities unrelated to the treatment of aging. Running a fund has a timeline built in, and investments must be made on a schedule. This, coupled with the small size of the longevity industry, is why we see a sizable fraction of the larger investment ventures in this space formed as business development companies rather than pure venture funds. In general, one should expect a business development company run by knowledgeable people to be more likely than a standard venture fund to invest in projects that are relevant to treating aging as a medical condition.
Longevity biotech Cambrian Biopharma has announced the close of an oversubscribed Series C financing, which raised $100 million. The financing was co-led by Anthos Capital and SALT Fund, with participation from existing investors Apeiron Investment Group, Future Ventures, Moore Capital and others, to develop therapeutics to combat the biological drivers of aging, treat and prevent age-related diseases and lengthen healthspan. With this financing, Cambrian has raised approximately $160 million since the company was founded in 2019.
Age-related diseases account for more than two-thirds of all deaths worldwide, taking 41 million lives every year, or nearly one death every second. Existing approaches to these diseases are almost exclusively reactive - waiting for people to get sick and only then using the rapidly expanding knowledge of biology to try to treat very sick patients. Cambrian believes the future of medicine lies in approaching these diseases proactively, removing damage at a cellular level before a person becomes a patient. Each therapeutic in Cambrian's pipeline targets a different type of damage that builds up with age and will be tested for clinical safety and efficacy in an acute indication before using running multi-disease prevention trials.
Cambrian operates as a Distributed Development Company designed to bridge the gap that exists today between academic discovery and drug development. This unique drug discovery model combines the advantages of a venture capital firm and a big pharmaceutical company, with the nimbleness of a biotech startup. Cambrian's hypothesis-driven approach and industry-leading pipeline of drug candidates provides for reduced risk and multiple "shots on goal". To date, Cambrian has 14 novel therapeutics in development across its majority-held pipeline companies. Proceeds from the financing will support the advancement and expansion of a diversified pipeline of novel therapies, each with the potential to both treat and prevent age-related diseases, with the goal of extending human healthspan. Cambrian expects to initiate clinical trials for three programmes in the next 18 months.