One of the signs of investor enthusiasm for an industry is the existence of projects that raise significant funding at a very early stage of their development. We're seeing that happen for cellular reprogramming, but companies started by well-connected individuals in other parts of the longevity industry are now raising a great deal of funding in early preclinical stages of development. This suggests that we will continue to see a growing influx of capital into the development of ways to treat aging as a medical condition, pulling more research projects out of the constraints of academia and into an environment of greater funding and attention. We can hope that an acceleration of progress across the field will result from this.
A small but growing group is also beginning to focus on menopause, which impacts half the population and whose onset is associated with a long list of health conditions, from higher blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which is a form of fat in the blood, to, even more frighteningly, a greater risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
The newest outfit focused on the cause is Gameto, which says it wants to solve the problem of "accelerated" ovarian aging to change the trajectory of women's health and equality. Ovaries age up to five times faster than any organ in the sense that they stop working far earlier than, say, the liver, or brain, or even skin. While women are born with a certain number of ovocytes - an immature female sex cell that later gives rise to a fully mature ovum or egg cell - they eventually run out of these, at which point their ovaries stop functioning as an organ and stop producing the hormones that control women's physiology.
One-year-old Gameto wants to help delay that process, or even push it off forever if a woman chooses, by developing a platform for ovarian therapeutics that will initially be used to improve the process of assisted fertility but hopefully, eventually, be used, too, to identify cell therapies that can prevent the medical burden of menopause. How exactly? It's still early days and the Gameto principals are loath to dive into specifics, but the young company has already begun testing whether ovarian supporting cells could help mature eggs and reduce the number of IVF cycles that women often endure currently. Some notable investors are willing to bet on that early evidence. New York-based Gameto just raised $20 million in funding led by Future Ventures. Other participants include Bold Capital Partners, Lux Capital, Plum Alley, TA Ventures, Overwater Ventures, Arch Venture Partners co-founder Robert Nelsen and 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki.