Longevity investment bulletin: CARMAT, LifeX Ventures, Fractyl and more

The latest longevity updates from our investment news desk.

CARMAT lands 13.2m funding

Artificial heart developer CARMAT announced it has secured non-dilutive financing of €13.2 million as part of the “France 2030” plan. The purpose of the financing is to support the increase in the annual production capacity of the company’s artificial hearts to 1,000 a year within 5 years, and the reduction of production costs. It consists of a €7.9 million grant and a €5.3 million repayable advance.

CARMAT said it can now fund its activities until mid-October 2023 without the need for any further financing. The company continues to work on additional financing options to extend its cash runway beyond that date.

“This significant funding further demonstrates the French State’s confidence in the strength of our project and the potential of our Aeson artificial heart,” said Stéphane Piat, CEO of CARMAT. “Not only is it crucial to enable us to rapidly increase our production capacity, it will also help us – via its optimization – to considerably reduce our prosthesis’ production cost.”

LifeX backs Cortical Labs

Longevity focused investment company LifeX Ventures revealed it is an investor in fascinating Australian startup Cortical Labs.  Combining synthetic biology with human neurons Cortical is working on what it calls “organoid intelligence”.

“Human brains run on very little energy, use surprisingly small data sets to draw correct inferences, and make unprecedented innovations,” said LifeX Ventures in a statement. “A system that harnesses the power of neurons, directly integrated with digital platforms that allow programming interfaces, has enormous potential.”

“Both the biological computing and the biopharma use cases are already attracting commercial interest for Cortical Labs, and part of why LifeX is enthusiastic to support a team that’s working on the commercially realistic cutting edge.”

Fractyl begins diabetes study in Germany

Organ-editing therapeutics company Fractyl Health announced the initiation of its Revita Global Registry Program in Germany. The company received clearance for the initiation of a registry study on patients with inadequately controlled type 2 diabetes in German hospitals.

Data will be collected to understand the impact of Revita on important clinical, patient-relevant, and health-economic outcomes associated with type 2 diabetes.

“Nearly 50% of patients remain inadequately controlled with T2D, and therefore, there is a need for new therapeutic options that can improve real-world outcomes in the disease,” said Professor Jochen Seufert from University Hospital Freiburg and principal investigator for the registry study in Germany. “This registry study will enable us to collect valuable data on Revita under real-world conditions to help better understand the value it may provide to people with the disease.”

The registry aims to collect data from patients receiving the Revita procedure at Munich Municipal Hospital (Bogenhausen) and Evangelical Hospital Düsseldorf (EVK) in collaboration with the West German Diabetes and Health Centre (WDGZ) in Düsseldorf.

ŌURA inks US deal with Best Buy

Digital personalized health company ŌURA announced its first US-based, large-scale retail partnership with Best Buy. The company’s Oura Ring product is now available at more than 850 Best Buy stores nationwide, as well as on BestBuy.com. Select stores will carry inventory of top-selling Oura Ring styles in a range of colors.

“Brick-and-mortar retail is a natural next step for ŌURA and marks a pivotal moment for the business as we continue to expand into the mainstream,” said Tom Hale, ŌURA CEO. “Introducing more people to the benefits of ŌURA’s technology and providing an impactful in-store and online experience with the help of Best Buy is an exciting step forward for us as a company.”

Histogen publishes emricasan data

Clinical-stage immunotherapy company Histogen published an abstract describing a preclinical study showing that one of its molecules has therapeutic effect against bacterial skin infections. The company is developing small molecule pan-caspase and caspase selective inhibitors that protect the body’s natural process to restore immune function.

The study examined the role of the irreversible pan-caspase inhibitor emricasan as a potential immunotherapy against bacterial infections in mice. The results of the study show that emricasan reduced both lesion size and bacterial burden versus placebo, and showed efficacy superior to doxycycline alone in lesion size.

“The data from this study collectively support the use of emricasan as a potential host-directed immunotherapy against MRSA skin infections,” said Steven J Mento, CEO of Histogen. “The fact the emricasan works as good as or better than an antibiotic alone in this preclinical study points to the opportunity to provide emricasan as a viable treatment option for physicians without the risk of generating antibiotic resistance.”

UNITY shares positive Phase 2 results

Longevity biotech company UNITY Biotechnology announced positive results from the long-term follow-up of the Phase 2 BEHOLD study of UBX1325 in patients with diabetic macular edema. UBX1325 is an investigational compound being studied for age-related diseases of the eye.

A single injection of UBX1325 treatment led to a statistically significant improvement in vision lasting for the 48-week duration of the study.

“This is a defining moment for the senolytic therapeutic hypothesis and is a pivotal moment for UNITY,” said Dr Anirvan Ghosh, CEO of UNITY. “Achieving sustained improvements in visual acuity and stabilization of retinal structure for almost 1 year after a single injection of UBX1325 is a remarkable result… Based on the strong emerging clinical profile of UBX1325, we are planning to move forward with our Phase 2b DME head-to-head study against aflibercept in the second half of 2023.”

Life Biosciences restores vision in primates

Cellular rejuvenation biotech Life Biosciences announced preclinical data in nonhuman primates for its novel gene therapy candidate which uses a partial epigenetic reprogramming approach to restore visual function. The new data demonstrated restoration of visual function and increased nerve axon survival.

The company reprogrammed the epigenome of older animals to resemble that of younger animals via expression of three Yamanaka factors, Oct4, Sox2, and Klf4, collectively known as OSK. The approach partially reprograms cells to resemble a more youthful state while retaining their original cellular identity.

“NAION is the most common cause of acute optic neuropathy in people over 50, but currently has no effective treatment,” said Professor Bruce Ksander of Harvard Medical School, and lead presenter of the study presented at the ARVO conference. “The data we are presenting here show, for the very first time, that treatment with OSK can lead to significant recovery in affected visual function in an NHP model of NAION, the gold standard translational model. That potential unlocks new opportunities for cellular rejuvenation, not just in NAION but in other ophthalmic diseases that occur as a result of retinal ganglion cell dysfunction as we age.”