Juvena Therapeutics bags $41 million to accelerate biologics for age-related diseases

Funding will power Juvena’s AI-enabled drug discovery platform to map the therapeutic potential of secreted proteins.

Juvena Therapeutics, a biotech start-up scaling a computational platform to map the therapeutic potential of secreted proteins, has announced it has raised $41 million in an oversubscribed Series A, bringing its total funding to $50 million. The new funding will power the expansion of Juvena’s drug discovery platform and advance the company’s biologics pipeline targeting chronic and age-related diseases.

Juvena’s Series A was co-led by Mubadala Capital and Horizons Ventures, with participation from Bison Ventures, Manta Ray Ventures, IRONGREY, Alumni Ventures, Plum Alley, Jeff Dean (SVP, Google Research and Health), Transform VC, Karl Pfleger, BoxOne Ventures, Intersect VC, Compound, Felicis and other investors.

Longevity.Technology: An already-proven class of biologics, secreted proteins have tremendous therapeutic potential as they regulate tissue repair and regeneration, organ development and immune response to disease. However, despite the remarkable impact of FDA-approved biologics based on secreted proteins such as insulin, human growth hormone and erythropoietin, this class of biologics has remained largely understudied and underused by biopharma due to low abundance, higher structural complexity and the massive search space to map secreted proteins to disease-reversing effects in specific target cells across human organs.

These limitations have constrained biopharma’s approach to studying the role of secreted proteins only as drug targets or biomarkers, rather than as drug agents themselves.

However, Juvena is a company with a plan to systematically uncover the therapeutic links between secreted proteins and diseases. Using a computational platform that mines proteins secreted by regenerative stem cells and screens this rich pool of drug candidates across therapeutic areas, Juvena will discover and engineer novel biologics.

This platform is applicable across a wide scope of disease indications and combines a compounding database that maps secreted proteins to specific diseases, in silico screening tech, wetlab screening in primary human cell and animal models, and protein engineering capabilities; this all creates a fully-integrated approach for accelerating the development of biologics for chronic and age-related diseases.

Juvena was co-founded by Dr Hanadie Yousef, an expert on the biology of aging and degenerative diseases, and Dr Jeremy O’Connell, an expert on systems biology and proteomics. Together they co-founded Juvena to build on decades of expertise they accumulated at UC Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard and UT Austin. As Juvena expands its platform, it is also accelerating its preclinical programs, having secured funding from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine and the National Institute of Health for the treatment of Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1, a rare disease that is presently incurable.

“We are thrilled to scale our platform with this investment and advance the discovery and engineering of novel biologics that reverse the damage people accrue with aging and chronic, debilitating diseases,” said Hanadie Yousef, PhD, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Juvena. “We’re also excited to explore partnerships with biopharma companies looking to benefit from the mapping of secreted proteins to other therapeutic focus areas.”

“Juvena has developed an unbiased computational drug discovery platform that allows it to uncover novel insights about the role of secreted proteins at an unprecedented scale, and to accelerate their development into regenerative therapeutics for high unmet medical needs,” said Ayman AlAbdallah, Venture Capitalist at Mubadala Capital.

“We are excited to work with the Juvena team and believe their robust platform and pipeline will lead to therapeutics that significantly benefit patients.”

“Juvena is addressing a long-standing critical gap in drug discovery by unlocking the therapeutic powers of an attractive class of biologics that can help prevent, treat, and cure life-altering diseases, thereby rejuvenating lives,” said Patrick Zhang, Investor at Horizons Ventures. “The technology platform, coupled with the experienced team Juvena has attracted, will contribute significantly to the availability of safe, effective, and easily-administered treatments for chronic and age-related diseases.”

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