Juvenescence: Think aging up, rather than disease down

New CEO set to Marshall longevity with a pipeline that delivers immediate therapeutic benefit, but always has an eye on a future preventative angle.

Back in January, we reported that leading longevity biotech Juvenescence had appointed Dr Richard Marshall CBE as CEO. As well bringing fifteen years’ GSK experience to the role, Marshall was also latterly Senior VP, Global Head of Development, Respiratory & Immunology at AstraZeneca.

Longevity.Technology: Juvenescence is focused on antiaging research and the development of therapeutics to combat age-related diseases. Its various collaborations and subsidiaries enable it to explore diverse approaches, including small molecules, gene therapies and regenerative medicine, to address the challenges of aging and redefine the possibilities of healthy aging.

In appointing a CEO with an impressive Big Pharma track record, Juvenescence continues its commitment, not only to to novel and innovative therapeutics, but to moving antiaging drugs through human trials and into the clinic. We sat down with Dr Marshall to find out why having diversity of pipeline and thinking is so key to success, what Juvenescence’s USP is, and why, when it comes to supplements, we need to watch this space!

Richard Marshall on…

From traditional Pharma to longevity

Joining Juvenescence was an easy decision to make – particularly as I got to understand Juvenescence, the mission they’re on, getting to know the founders and how passionate they are about the company and the mission. And, also, getting to know the pipeline – I very quickly understood why they needed somebody with a long track-record in pharma R&D because we have such a rich pipeline to progress. When you add those three things together – mission, team and founders, and pipeline – they wasn’t any hesitation from my perspective.

I’ve devoted my career to improving health; I think there’s a long way to for therapeutics, and we have a pipeline of therapeutics, but what I really like is being part of this conceptual change to how you go about improving health. Juvenescence, of course, came about when the investor Jim Mellon was trying to understand what are things that are going to be most meaningful in terms of their impact on society and the economy, and he identified the demographic shifts happening across the globe with which we’re all very familiar, and he recognised, I think, that isn’t just going to be an incremental increase in the burden of healthcare, but was going to be an enormous change that could potentially cause catastrophic health economic burdens.

What’s therapeutic now can be preventative later

At a macro level, and core to Juvenescence’s mission because it’s somewhere societies need to go, we need to have interventions of various kinds, that start much earlier in life, to prevent the kinds of problems that we store up as we get older, and thereby improve healthspan. So, prevention is actually a key part of our strategy. I’m a physician by training, with a long time in healthcare and pharma R&D, so I understand that any intervention is about risk:benefit.

You can either come at this from a nutrition/supplements/ingredients perspective, and the challenge there is to provide really optimized, well validated, quality controlled interventions in the nutritional/supplements/ingredients space. Precision is also key.

Or there is a medicines perspective – novel small and large molecule therapeutics. Here, our approach is to build a pipeline based on mechanisms that fundamentally, we believe, and backed by evidence, drive the underlying aging process that so interrupts and disrupts healthspan and leads to chronic disease. Rather than thinking disease down, we start from aging up – target the mechanism, deliver clinical benefit, then think about building a prevention strategy.

Juvenescence USP

Juvenescence was founded from a passion for healthspan intervention; we’re narrating, and, hopefully, providing real clarity and coherence for potential investors about why we’re doing what we’re doing, how supplements have a place, but our main focus is our therapeutic pipeline and demonstrating to them how that pipeline has come together, and how we think we can prosecute in the clinic. Over the last few months, as we’ve started to talk to investors, and we hope to close our Series C in the next couple of months, we are definitely getting really good traction. There is definitely a lot of dry power out there! There is an enormous upsurge in the interest in longevity and healthspan, and I’ve come to this out of large pharmaceutical companies, where, in the main, there isn’t so much of a focus on it, but it will shift, I think, and I think biotech way ahead of the field.

You put all those things together, and yes, we’re confident we’re going to get the war chest we need. We have, in a way, too many things to do, that’s a nice problem to have! We have the potential to get 5-7 medicines into the clinic in the next couple of years, and we could prioritize if we have to, but I’d much rather not, as I think they’re all potential blockbusters. We want to progress everything and take it all forward!