• Fight Aging! Newsletter February 11th 2019 (3/3)

    From More Granularity@21:1/5 to All on Sun Feb 10 09:29:50 2019
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    Inspired by British billionaire Jim Mellon, chairman of anti-aging upstart biotech venture Juvenescence, Sergey Young unveiled a 100 million fund on Monday to catalyze the development of a comprehensive solution to counteract the damaging consequences of
    aging. The 47-year-old considers himself a product of Peter Diamandis - the man behind the non-profit XPRIZE and venture capital fund BOLD Capital Partners - and is in charge of all things longevity at both organizations. Like Mellon, who penned
    Juvenescence: Investing in the Age of Longevity prior to the launch of the company Juvenescence, Young is in the embryonic stage of writing his own book designed to decode the science of aging for the masses. Meanwhile, his 100 million Longevity Vision
    Fund will back organizations who are working on technology to reverse the aging process and prolong healthy human life.

    "We are currently working on 6 deals ... and are looking at all the usual suspects in terms of themes." These areas include early detection of serious diseases using ultrasound technology; early diagnostics for heart, cancer, and neurodegenerative
    diseases; stem-cell and microbiome-based therapeutics; and big data as well as AI-based applications. Unsurprisingly, Young is in dialogue with Alex Zhavoronkov's AI shop at Insilico Medicine. Zhavoronkov has deep connections in the R&D space - last year
    he raised funds at the behest of Shanghai high-flyer WuXi AppTec, Singapore's Temasek, Peter Diamandis, and Juvenescence.

    For long-time investor and venture capitalist Young, who has insight into the aging research and development effort within the US and to a lesser extent in the UK, China and India's sizable populations pose compelling prospects for deals for his fund. "
    In the next decade, advancements will allow us to be a lot more predictive and preventative in the most damaging diseases. I'm thinking AI-enabled medicine will empower doctors .. technological advances to improve sleeping and meditation will emerge -
    and these are an essential part of a healthy, long life, along with a plant-based diet."

    An Interview with Sebastian Aguiar of Apollo Ventures https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2019/02/an-interview-with-sebastian-aguiar-of-apollo-ventures/

    Apollo Ventures is one of the first wave of investor concerns focused on the treatment of aging, and the principals and staff have put a fair amount of work into building a model for finding and commercializing promising research. They also publish the
    Geroscience popular science site, which is a helpful act of advocacy for the wider cause. As is the case for near all bigger venture funding organizations, they have a senolytics company (Cleara Biotech) in their portfolio, and thus the SENS model for
    rejuvenation is advanced.

    What initially attracted you to aging as a general discipline?

    Through multiple, orthogonal, potentially synergistic interventions, we are able to extend the healthy lifespan of model organisms. In mice, the ablation of senescent cells can extend median lifespan by 30%. The augmentation of autophagy and the
    transient re-activation of telomerase yield similar rejuvenating effects. These interventions should be combined, as they may be synergistic. It is only a matter of time before these interventions are working in the clinic. This kind of evidence was
    enough for me to commit my career to geroscience because, many years ago, I saw that the 'writing is on the wall' - thanks to advances in molecular biology, healthy life extension is no longer science fiction. This century, geroscience will be a paradigm
    shift comparable to the antibiotics revolution in the last century.

    What is the main challenge you have faced as a longevity investor?

    Most geroscientists are not working on translational research. They are basic scientists. Basic science is the bedrock of everything we do, but it's not enough. Pharma has dropped the ball in drug discovery and development, and there is a major gap in
    the pipeline between academic proof-of-concept and drug development. There is not enough collaboration between biologists, chemists, and drug hunters. The transition through the 'valley of death' of drug development is where company-building venture
    capital firms such as Apollo Ventures can step in. For example, there are many biologists with data showing that gene X or protein Y, when modulated, has salutary effects. They might even identify a 'hit' molecule, such as a natural product or library
    compound that modulates the target or mechanism of action, but they usually don't partner with chemists to perform medicinal chemistry optimization, pharm/tox, and validation in multiple animal models of disease.

    The other challenge is that, as investors, we don't see many established, aging-focused biotechs that satisfy our investment criteria. The science may be solid, but the team is lacking, or vice versa. There are not many experienced C-level biotech
    managers out there, and few understand geroscience. This will change once the field has a few clinical successes. Then the floodgates will open.

    What can we expect from you and Apollo Ventures in 2019?

    We will unveil a few more geroscience companies that are currently in stealth mode. Apollo will continue to build our internal team as well. We are looking for people with talent in both geroscience and biotech business management. Apollo was founded by
    a partnership of successful entrepreneurs and aging scientists with expertise in the biopharma and management consulting businesses. The depth of scientific expertise and biopharma business acumen within Apollo is unique in the geroscience space. Another
    distinguishing feature is that Apollo is focused more heavily on company building than other investors who are oriented toward investing in pre-established companies.

    Reporting on the Longevity Leaders Conference https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2019/02/reporting-on-the-longevity-leaders-conference/

    Some of the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation folk were at the recent Longevity Leaders conference in London, and wrote up a report on the event. The conference split up into three streams later in the day, one of which is followed here. Being focused
    on the pensions and life insurance industries as much as biotechnology, there were a lot of people present with minimal exposure to the prospects for rejuvenation and slowing of aging. It was noteworthy to see so many there being newly interested in the
    topic of treating aging as a medical condition, and motivated to learn more because it is important to their work in other areas of endeavor.

    The conference was quite broad in scope and included people from the aging research community, the pharmaceutical industry, general healthcare, and the business and insurance fields. Speaking of insurance companies, it was interesting that the large
    insurance companies Prudential and Legal & General were both sponsoring the event; Prudential had even produced an interesting booklet for guests with the title "Prepare for 100" boldly on the cover. The book went on to talk about the changes coming to
    medicine and how people could soon be living longer than ever before thanks to the new medical approaches that are currently being developed.

    Dr. Aubrey de Grey was in fine form as usual during the keynote panel discussion at the start of the event, just as he was when, later that day, I had the opportunity to interview him about progress with SENS. While we will be publishing the interview I
    did with Aubrey later, it's a good time to share the interesting concept of damage crosstalk now. It turns out that Aubrey has become more optimistic about the medical control of age-related damage and has moved his prediction of longevity escape
    velocity down from 20 years to 18. Quite simply, there is increasing evidence that the different aging processes have a lot more influence and interaction with each other (crosstalk) than previously thought.

    Lynne Cox, a biochemist from the University of Oxford, chaired a discussion panel with Brian Delaney, president of the Age Reversal Network and who serves on our Industry Advisory Board, and Tristan Edwards, the CEO of Life Biosciences. The discussion
    topics were "What's at the cutting edge of aging research and development?" and "How can we accelerate research and development and the advancement of new therapies to address aging and age-related disease?" The panel was in a round table format, and
    attendees were also able to directly join the discussion, which proved lively and interesting. Lynne Cox, in particular, provided some very informative details about aging research.

    There was considerable discussion about senescent cell clearing therapies as well as touching upon the topic of biohacking. The general feeling was that biohacking had the potential to set the field back if people conduct it in an unscientific manner and
    harm themselves in the process. Indeed, this echoes our sentiment that people who self-test at home should be very careful and apply a science-based approach to what they are doing. The bottom line is that if you are not recording your biomarkers and
    doing things scientifically, you risk hurting yourself and are taking things on faith rather than evidence; this also has potential to harm the field and set research back, so please hack responsibly.

    On a more positive note, the panel was in favor about science doing something about aging and age-related diseases, and discussion of senolytics, senomorphics (therapies that block senescent cell inflammation), and cellular reprogramming were all
    enthusiastically discussed, especially by the academics present. This is very welcome, and it was great to see so many academics being frank about the potential of medicine to bring aging under medical control in order to prevent age-related diseases,
    which is in stark contrast to a decade ago, when suggesting the idea could harm your career and get you mocked by your peers. Times have certainly changed, as more and more researchers are now focusing on how we can rise to the challenge that aging

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