More Visible Examples of Progress in the Longevity Biotech Industry in 2022

Much of the progress that takes place year after year in any segment of the broader biotech industry is invisible, and the growing portion of that industry focused on aging and longevity is no exception. Biotech is not a high profile industry, particularly because of the heavy dependence on intellectual property and trade secrets as a basis for government-granted monopolies on particular treatments. Details are kept quiet least larger entities in the industry to decide replicate a therapy and call it their own, because the potential rewards are worth the near certainty of a lawsuit. Thus every visible presentation or press release typically discusses only the very top of a near entirely buried edifice of hard work and research.

Today I'll point out a look back at the more visible news from 2022 in the industry, put together by one of the newer longevity-industry-focused venture funds, quadraScope. I help out by advising the fund principals, one of whom is an investor in the company I co-founded with Bill Cherman, Repair Biotechnologies. One example of the web of connections that ties the community together. The longevity industry and its investors is a growing but still comparative small community, and building networks of collaboration and connection is an essential part of that progress.

Longevity biotech progress in 2022

Despite the economic challenges of 2022, the emerging longevity biotech industry made impressive progress on several fronts, including positive results in clinical trials of senolytics and mitochondrial replacement therapies. Unity Biotechnology, backed by billionaires Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel, reported positive results from a multicenter randomized clinical trial of a new senolytic drug to treat diabetic macular edema, a common cause of blindness in diabetic patients. Several companies, including Deciduous Therapeutics, Oisin Biotechnologies, and Cleara Biotech, are developing senolytic therapies to treat debilitating chronic conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis, diabetes, and cancer.

Mitochondrial replacement to restore cellular energy production is expected to be highly impactful for age reversal. Minovia, an Israeli biotech company, demonstrated the feasibility of transplanting mitochondria into humans. Although Minovia is treating an illness, their achievement suggests that a similar treatment could be used to enhance healthspan. In Minovia's clinical trial, children with single large-scale mitochondrial DNA deletion syndromes, a class of severe congenital mitochondrial diseases, received healthy mitochondria from their mothers. The benefits of the therapy were still evident one year after the transplant. Multiple startups are working on treatments to restore or replace aging mitochondria, including Mitrix Bio, Cellvie, Stealth BioTherapeutics, and Yuva Biosciences.

If proven feasible, cellular reprogramming could restore cell health and resilience, and treat diseases and disabilities caused by aging. 2021 and 2022 were the setup years for reprogramming with billions in funding and several ventures started. Ventures working on reprogramming include Altos Labs, NewLimit, Calico, Life Biosciences, Rejuvenate Bio, and Turn Biotechnologies. Altos Labs scientist Dr. Reik developed a method to reprogram cells, reversing their biological age by 30 years. Another Altos Labs scientist, Dr. Izpisua Belmonte, showed that long-term reprogramming was safe and could reverse age-related organ damage in mice. His group also developed an RNA-based therapy to reverse biological age and reduce inflammation in mice.

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