A gathering of the longevity clans

Longevity Biotech Association: Launch of new non-profit heralds a more unified approach across the longevity industry spectrum.

Leaders from across the longevity sector came together in London today to announce the formation of the Longevity Biotechnology Association (LBA). The non-profit organisation says it aims to represent those behind the development of “new medicines and therapies to prevent and cure, rather than merely manage, the health conditions of late life.”

Three of the LBA’s founding members announced the launch at today’s Investing in the Age of Longevity event at Longevity Week, including Juvenescence co-founder and chairman Jim Mellon, Cambrian Biopharma founder James Peyer, and Mehmood Khan, CEO of Hevolution Foundation.

On the academic side, LBA founding members include Harvard’s David Sinclair, Nir Barzilai from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Brian Kennedy from the National University of Singapore. In addition to Peyer, biotech company CEOs include BioAge’s Kristen Fortney, Joe Betts-Lacroix of Retro Biosciences, and Matthias Steger of Rejuveron Life Sciences.

Beyond Mellon and Kahn, investors are also represented by The Longevity Fund’s Laura Deming, Nils Regge of Apollo Health Ventures, Michael Greve of the Forever Healthy Foundation, and Longevity Vision Fund’s Sergey Young.

Longevity.Technology: For longevity biotech to truly deliver on its promise, there needs to be a more joined up approach across many aspects of this exciting, yet fledgling sector – and that means bringing together its best and brightest minds. One glance at the LBA’s founding members and you can see this new body means serious business. Spanning investors, entrepreneurs and scientists, it’s a veritable who’s who of the field, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it can help move the needle on global longevity.

“Longevity needs a champion – there is no way the NHS or Medicare can afford the coming situation where there are more old people than children,” Kahn told the audience. “Philanthropy needs to happen at a national level, but the solution has to be scalable and democratised – a solution for the few is no solution at all. Ultimately, a successful non profit should become obsolete – and that should be our goal.”

Hevolution Foundation’s Mehmood Khan talks about the need for attracting new talent from adjacent clinical fields and the need for philanthropy
Mehmood Kahn addresses the audience.

Mellon told us of his excitement that so many of the key players in the industry have universally joined the LBA, in what he calls “a gathering of the longevity clans.”

“This is a formidable association and it starts here, today,” he said. “We are within striking distance of the first generation of gerotherapeutics.

“I think the LBA will be a powerful and necessary force for the coming years… The ambition of the industry over the next 10 years is to completely upend the conception of aging that most people have… and the bottom line is, the industry has come of age.”

From education to setting standards

The LBA has several main objectives, the first of which is to “educate governments, the media, the public and the medical field about the promise of emerging therapies with the potential to treat or prevent multiple age-related conditions at once.”

James Peyer talks about the need for standards for clinical trials targeting aging
James Peyer talks about the need for standards.

Other goals include supporting newcomers to the industry and to help foster the creation of industrywide best practices.

“We ned to start setting some standards,” says Mellon. “For instance, it’d be great if some of the biomarkers and biological clocks were standardised across the industry, and then have the FDA and other regulators understand that these standards are very high and appropriate for trials.

“In due course, we also aim to support cross-fertilisation between companies by catalysing thought and collaboration, and potentially, in the future, to create fellowships that are funded by the association for people do some basic science that is relevant to longevity.
“It’s early days, but we’ve done a lot of planning on this over the last six months, and I think it’s going to be an important feature of the industry in the years ahead.”

What the founding members are saying

James Peyer said, “Drug development is really like a relay race – something starts at a university lab and then it gets passed like a baton to a biotech company backed by a group of investors, which then gets passed to a group that’s going to run clinical trials and commercialise that new discovery. We’re trying to bring all of these people under one tent to look holistically at how these drugs are going to ultimately get approval and then begin saving people’s lives.”

Kristen Fortney said, “Today, there’s a huge mismatch between lifespan and health span. For over two decades now, there’s a growing list of interventions, both genetic interventions and therapies, that you could give to a mouse and significantly extend its healthspan and lifespan, improving the function in multiple different tissues and delaying or rescuing them from multiple different aging related diseases. And the science is now ready to be translated to humans.”

Sergey Young said, “There’s a lot of momentum in the aging field, both in the academic and the private sector. We just have to bring that to fruition and show that we can alter human lifespan.”

Brian Kennedy said, “It’s an exciting time in the aging research field because there’s more investigators coming in from different angles to think about the aging process. I think what we’ll see in the next decade or so, in the clinical realm is that we’ll start to validate that interventions can affect human aging… Now, the initial studies may be relatively modest. But I would remind you that if we could extend human healthspan just three years the savings in the US alone is in the trillions of dollars. So keeping people healthy, saves money.”

Joe Betts-Lacroix said, “The LBA has a really great mix of backgrounds and trainings of the people involved. Having experienced scientists on the team at the LBA helps us know that not only are we choosing metrics and standards that can help us from business perspective, but also that they are sound from a scientific perspective and actually help people get the research done that we have to do. And we have a lot to do.”