Funding by Melnichek Investments fuels Gero’s strategy to apply AI and real-world human health data to decode the relationship between aging and diseases – and then combat them.
Gero, the GenAI biotech focused on aging and chronic diseases, has closed $6 million in a Series A extension round. This funding round positions Gero to continue internal drug development programs, grow its scientific team to boost platform technology development and expand its US presence.
The round was led by Melnichek Investments, a Cyprus-based VC firm that seeks to improve the quality of human lives by funding and supporting promising, potentially high-impact, machine-learning startups, with the participation of VitaDAO and Leonid Lozner, founder of leading digital platform engineering services company EPAM.
Longevity.Technology: By applying cutting-edge generative AI tools to analyze real-world longitudinal human health data, Gero is dedicated to finding novel cures for age-related diseases. Its goal is to unravel the mysteries behind human aging, understanding, slowing and hopefully even and halting the aging process. In addition to an ongoing partnership with Pfizer to find treatments for fibrotic diseases, Gero is pursuing an ambitious longer-term plan to double human healthspan and lifespan within the current generation.
“The large health model that we have trained is instrumental in the discovery of therapies targeting aging and age-related diseases, both in-house and via collaborations with pharmaceutical companies,” said Peter Fedichev, Gero co-founder and CEO. “Thanks to this recent funding from Melnichek Investments, coupled with their expertise in modern AI through backing many successful companies, we are now well positioned to accelerate our progress.”
Gero has developed proprietary, physics-guided machine-learning frameworks to explore human biology in a bias-free way, and its drug-development platform enables target discovery against chronic age-related diseases directly in human data. Current genetics-based approaches to target discovery rarely lead to new approved therapies for chronic diseases, which are all interlinked via aging. Gero’s approach allows separating the effects of aging from the effects of diseases enabling human genetics-driven target discovery for chronic and age-related diseases.
Its large health models (LHMs) are fully interpretable, which means that they can provide both a prediction and an explanation for that prediction. Findings can be validated and verified for accuracy, and because Gero’s LHMs are based on real human data, the drug research and discovery process is both radically faster than traditional studies using mice or other laboratory animals and has a higher level of fidelity to actual human biology.
As well as Gero’s research collaboration with Pfizer, the company is in discussions with other pharmas evaluating age-related diseases as a growing market. The large health model developed by Gero was trained to differentiate the specific effects of aging from the effects of diseases, and could potentially revolutionize genetics-driven drug discovery against most common conditions.
Melnichek Investments said it saw great potential in Gero’s mission to gain new insights into the drivers of age-related diseases and develop new medicines that treat them.
“By targeting the underlying processes of aging, Gero’s therapeutics have the potential to mitigate the burden of age-related illnesses and enhance the quality of life for individuals worldwide,” said founder Yury Melnichek. “Moreover, as populations age and healthcare costs escalate, Gero’s research and development efforts offer a ray of hope for more effective and sustainable healthcare solutions.”
Eleanor Davies, steward of the Longevity Science Working Group at VitaDAO, a participant in the round, explained that AI tech has become a powerful ally in the therapeutic design toolset.
“Age-related diseases are complicated to unravel and advances will rely heavily on an understanding of extremely large data sets – far beyond the capabilities of human researchers,” she said. “Gero’s work is showing the importance of that realization and the solutions that are possible.”
“Our gratitude goes out to Melnichek Investments and our other investors for their continuous support,” said Gero co-founder Maxim Kholin. “Having already made significant progress in fundamental research, we are now expanding towards resource-intensive drug development projects. As we look ahead, we anticipate a new funding round in the near future, and we invite potential investors to engage in early conversations with us.”
We reached out to Kholin for an additional reaction to Gero’s news.
“Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman once emphasized that there are no known physical laws that render aging an inevitable process,” he said. “In fact, certain organisms in the natural world do not experience aging. This is why we firmly believe that aging is stoppable, and as a species, we are unstoppable. We are pushing the boundaries of biology through a potent combination of physical and engineering sciences, modern biology, and state-of-the-art machine learning and AI technologies, all with the aim of confronting this challenge head-on. We extend an invitation to scientists, pharmaceutical and biotech experts, as well as investors, to unite with us in our mission to end aging within our lifetime.”
As Kholin says, Gero an advocate for the view that aging is not an inevitable part of human existence but rather a treatable condition that can be manipulated, slowed or even stopped through research and innovation. Companies spearheading research in this area are making headlines (Altos, Calico, &c), and money is flowing; in our last Annual Report, we estimated investment in the field reached $5.2 billion in 2022 – and the field is still growing.