Longevity investment bulletin: Athersys, Maze, TreeFrog and more

The latest longevity updates from our investment news desk.  

Maze completes Phase 1 trial

Precision medicine company Maze Therapeutics announced the completion of its first-in-human clinical trial of MZE001 in healthy volunteers. MZE001 is an oral glycogen synthase (GYS1) inhibitor that aims to address Pompe disease by limiting disease-causing glycogen buildup.

Topline data demonstrated that administration of MZE001 was well-tolerated at single and multiple doses, with a PK profile supporting twice-daily dosing. Importantly, at exposures predicted to be clinically relevant, MZE001 reduced blood cell glycogen, a translatable biomarker for muscle glycogen, in line with preclinical observations. Based on these findings, Maze plans to initiate a Phase 2 clinical trial of MZE001 in 2023. Full results of the MZE001 Phase 1 trial will be presented at the 19th annual WORLD Symposium, being held from February 22 – 26, 2023.

“These topline results give us confidence that GYS1 may be safely inhibited, supporting MZE001’s advancement as the potential first oral therapy, alone or in in combination with enzyme replacement, to treat Pompe disease and possibly other glycogen storage disorders,” said Dr Harold Bernstein, president, research and development and chief medical officer of Maze. “We look forward to carrying this program forward into a Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with Pompe disease who need improved treatment options for their disease.”

TreeFrog collaborates with GAIA

French biotech TreeFrog Therapeutics announced a collaboration with Japanese biopharma company GAIA BioMedicine, for the expansion of donor-derived NK-like cells. TreeFrog has raised $82M over the past three years to advance a pipeline of stem cell-based therapies in immuno-oncology and regenerative medicine.

“With 3 ongoing clinical trials, GAIA is one of the world’s most advanced cell therapy companies in the field of solid tumors,” said Dr Frederic Desdouits, CEO of TreeFrog Therapeutics. “They have a very compelling allogeneic immune cell therapy strategy, which relies on GAIA-102 NK-like cells – a specific population of immune cells isolated from healthy donor blood samples that exhibit strong anti-tumor cytotoxic potency. Our Japanese team is very excited to start collaborating with GAIA scientists, and we strongly believe that GAIA’s innovative approach, combined with the C-Stem platform, could lead to fast and broad patient access to adoptive cell therapies against solid tumors.”

Athersys to meet with FDA

Cell therapy and regenerative medicine company Athersys (NASDAQ: ATHX) announced it has been granted a clinical Type B meeting with the US FDA. Scheduled for late March, the company intends to use the meeting to discuss proposed modifications to its ongoing pivotal Phase 3 MASTERS-2 clinical trial.

Athersys is the developer of the MultiStem (invimestrocel) cell therapy, a patented regenerative medicine product that has shown the ability to promote tissue repair and healing in a variety of ways, such as through the production of therapeutic factors in response to signals of inflammation and tissue damage.

“This an important step forward as we continue to advance MASTERS-2,” commented Dr Manal Morsy, Head of Global Regulatory Affairs at Athersys. “We are grateful to the FDA for its continued guidance and support for the development of high unmet medical need programs. We look forward to a collaborative exchange regarding the proposed modifications for the pivotal ischemic stroke study.”

Morphoceuticals bags $8 million

Regenerative medicine company Morphoceuticals announced an $8 million Seed-2 funding round led by Prime Movers Lab and initial investor Juvenescence. Morphoceuticals is pioneering the use of AI-guided electroceuticals to regenerate limbs, repair tissues and regenerate organs.

The company generated headlines last year when its scientific founders successfully demonstrated limb regeneration in an African clawed frog – the first achievement of functional limb regeneration in an adult animal of a species that does not naturally regenerate complex limbs in adulthood.

“The funding will enable us to now push forward on several fronts, including testing new electroceutical combinations for limb regeneration and amputation stump health that we can take into the clinic, as well as the development of tools that will map the bioelectric atlas of living tissues, which will be a discovery and development engine for our future therapeutics,” said Dr Michael Hufford, CEO of Morphoceuticals.

Freedom Biosciences nabs more funding

Biotech fund LongeVC has invested in psychedelics startup Freedom Biosciences. Founded by Yale University professor Dr John Krystal and PsyMed Ventures co-founder Dina Burkitbayeva, Freedom Biosciences is developing next-gen therapeutics to treat mental health conditions. The company announced a $10.5 million seed round last year, supported by other psychedelics, biotech and longevity-focused funds and angel investors, including Marat Kichikov.

“Better mental health is essential for healthy longevity and should be treated as an integral part of the life extension agenda,” said LongeVC co-founder and managing partner Garri Zmudze. “By tackling some of the most pressing psychological conditions, we strive to support lives that are longer and healthier, both physically and mentally.”

HAYA appoints new advisors

Precision medicine company HAYA Therapeutics announced that Dr Ahmad Masri and Dr Cedric Feschotte are joining the company’s advisory boards. The company is developing RNA-guided programmable precision medicines focused on long non-coding RNAs.

“The expansion of our advisors with Ahmad and Cedric, and the creation of our Clinical Advisory Board marks a significant milestone for HAYA,” said Dr Samir Ounzain, co-founder and CEO of HAYA Therapeutics. “Our mission is to bring the next generation of RNA-focused, disease-modifying precision medicines to patients, and our advisory boards will help guide IND-enabling studies as we begin to prepare to enter the clinic and further develop our dark genome platform for disease-driving cell-state targeting.”

Allosteric adds to SAB

Biopharma startup Allosteric Bioscience announced Dr Susan Michaelis has joined its Scientific Advisory Board. Michaelis is a leading scientist working on fundamental cell and molecular processes related to human health, disease and longevity. A professor of cell biology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Michaelis is focused on understanding the mechanism of the premature aging genetic disease progeria.

Allosteric is focused on using quantum computing and advanced AI integrated with biomedical sciences to improve and optimize aging and longevity. The company is creating and analyzing chemical leads which have the potential for treating progeria and for optimizing normal aging and longevity processes.

“Dr Michaelis will be a great addition to the Allosteric Bioscience SAB due to her outstanding scientific skills addressing some of the proteins Allosteric Bioscience is targeting for improvement and optimization of the Aging and Longevity process,” said Dr Arthur P Bollon, president and co-founder of Allosteric.

Photograph: insta_photos/Envato