The Lifespan.io team here talks with one of the co-founders of Turn.bio, one of the first biotech ventures focused on partial reprogramming as a basis for rejuvenation therapies. Their initial technology involves the delivery of lipid nanoparticles that encapsulate mRNA for temporary expression of the Yamanaka factors. Full reprogramming dedifferentiates and rejuvenates cells, turning somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells with youthful epigenetic patterns. Epigenetic rejuvenation is desirable, but producing pluripotent cells in the body is not. Partial reprogramming attempts to apply reprogramming factors for long enough to reset epigenetic patterns to a youthful level, but not for so long as to cause cells to change their state. Looking at the field as a whole, the major thrust of present research and development efforts might be viewed as the search for a reliable way to separate dedifferentiation from epigenetic rejuvenation.
We have seen very significant progress during the last two, three years. Back in 2019, many people still thought that this idea of transient cellular reprogramming, or partial reprogramming, was more science fiction than science. Today, mainstream science, researchers, companies around the world are trying to find the best way to rejuvenate cells. Many labs have started working on these ideas since we published our work. I strongly believe that our proprietary approach, which we call ERA (Epigenetic Reprogramming of Aging), holds the greatest promise in regenerative medicine, because it's a finely tuned and controlled way to reset the epigenetic landscape of cells to a more youthful, functional phenotype without impacting their identity, which is obviously a risk factor that's associated with reprogramming.
We will be moving to human trials very soon, hopefully. We're progressing very rapidly on a couple of indications in dermatology and immunotherapy. Soon, we're going to move into at least Phase I clinical trials. I always like to emphasize the fact that Turn as a company is not just about ERA. This is the foundational technology of Turn, but at the same time, since it relies on the delivery of mRNAs that are used to perform that resetting of the epigenetic landscape, we are also working heavily on the cargo (that is, the mRNAs), and on the delivery system. These three are the three pillars of Turn that are going to enable rapid clinical implementation of this technology for a variety of indications. There has been great progress in terms of research on all three of those, but most importantly, there has been major progress recently in partnering up with big players in the pharma field that are mission oriented.