Longevity investment bulletin: CohBar, Heartseed, Juvenescence and more

The latest longevity updates from our investment news desk.

CohBar to merge with Morphogenesis

Clinical stage biotech CohBar (NASDAQ: CWBR) and Morphogenesis announced a definitive agreement for an all-stock transaction forming a company combining expertise and resources to advance a late-stage oncology pipeline.

The combined company will focus on advancing Morphogenesis’ two technologies that seek to overcome the major obstacles that limit the effectiveness of current immunotherapies in treating cancer. The combined company is expected to operate under the name “TuHURA Biosciences, Inc.” and to trade on the Nasdaq. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2023.

“Following a thorough review and evaluation, we believe merging with Morphogenesis and leveraging their late-stage pipeline of novel immuno-oncology technologies represents the best path forward for our stockholders and has the potential to deliver near and long-term value,” said Dr Joseph Sarret, CEO of CohBar. “Our board and management team believe that the combined company will be well-positioned to develop powerful new therapies with the potential to overcome resistance to current immunotherapies, an area of significant unmet need.”

Heartseed bags $14m Series D

Heart-disease targeting biotech Heartseed announced it has raised approx. $14 million in a Series D funding round. This brings total financial backing in the company to approx. $74 million since it was founded in 2015.

Heartseed plans to use the new funds to complete the Phase 1/2 clinical trial of its lead asset, HS-001 for heart failure in Japan, as well as to establish an organization for its launch. In addition, Heartseed will also examine a less invasive administration such as trans-endocardial injection using a catheter for global development by Novo Nordisk.

“Heartseed achieved the first human dosing of HS-001 in December 2022, and initial safety and early sings of efficacy are being confirmed.” said Keiichi Fukuda, co-founder and CEO of Heartseed. “The commitment from both new and existing investors in this round is a strong validation of our technology and strategic vision. With their support, we look forward to accelerating our development to deliver potentially curative therapy for heart failure across the globe.”

Twinn.health launches early detection platform

Health tech company Twinn.health announced the launch of its AI-driven imaging platform that aims to revolutionize the early detection of age-related diseases. The platform, built on over a decade of research at Imperial College London, leverages advanced AI algorithms to analyze MRI data and provide risk assessments for common causes of frailty up to 10 years earlier than current methods.

Twinn.health’s platform is the first of its kind to use MRI data for risk assessment in the context of frailty. It identifies chronic age-related diseases earlier than traditional molecular signals, making it a powerful tool for early intervention and prevention. The platform has been validated through a retrospective clinical study involving 400 patients and three radiologists, with promising results.

“Twinn.health’s AI-powered platform offers a game-changing solution for age-related disease detection and management,” said Dr Wareed Alenaini, CEO of Twinn.health. “Our mission is to unlock the true potential of imaging data to improve health outcomes and prevent multiple diseases with a single MRI scan.”

SENISCA shortlisted for Nature award

Longevity biotech SENISCA announced that it has been shortlisted for the 2022/2023 Nature Spinoff Prize. The prize is awarded yearly by the journal Nature to early-stage university spinoff companies from around the world founded on research in life sciences or physical sciences. The prize aims to give better visibility to companies translating original, high-quality scientific research into products and services that make a positive impact on society.

SENISCA, a spinout from the University of Exeter, is one of only 12 companies worldwide to be shortlisted and is the only UK company to have made the list. Built on 15 years of pioneering research, SENISCA’s proprietary technology is harnessing RNA biology to rejuvenate aged senescent cells.

“Being shortlisted for the Nature Spinoff Prize is an incredible achievement for everyone at SENISCA,” said Professor Lorna Harries, Chief Scientific Officer of SENISCA. “Our inclusion in this prestigious list recognizes the significant potential of our technology to develop new and better treatments for diseases of ageing and make a difference in the lives of patients around the world.”

InsideTracker and OURA join forces

Digital healthspan company InsideTracker announced an integration with ŌURA, the company behind Oura Ring—the smart ring that delivers continuous and personalized health data, insights, and daily guidance. The integration with Oura Ring unlocks a range of new functionality for InsideTracker users, and marks the convergence of advanced, real-time analytics and science-based recommendations.

With the integration of real-time sleep and activity data from Oura Ring (including sleep duration, sleep staging, steps, and resting heart rate), combined with InsideTracker’s proprietary analysis of blood biomarkers and DNA data, InsideTracker users benefit from personalized and holistic interpretations and ProTips for optimizing their health.

“We are pleased to support the direct integration of ŌURA, which will allow more users to receive lifestyle-based healthspan recommendations unique to them, based not just on periodic bloodwork and DNA biomarkers but continuous physiological measurements as well,” said Renee Deehan, VP of Science and AI at InsideTracker. “InsideTracker’s actionable evidence-based recommendations based on a user’s bloodwork and DNA are now enhanced by the customer’s ŌURA integration. For example, your sleep duration may indicate that you need to alter caffeine intake, or your deep sleep may demonstrate the benefits of a supplement.”

Theriva appoints head of discovery

Clincal stage biotech Theriva Biologics (NYSE American: TOVX) announced the appointment of Dr Ramon Alemany as Senior Vice President of Discovery. Alemany will oversee Theriva’s discovery and development pipeline and will continue to serve as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board.

Alemany is Head of the Immunotherapy and Virotherapy Group at the ProCURE Program of the Catalan Institute of Oncology and the Oncobell Program of the Biomedical Research Institute of Bellvitge. His laboratory has developed unique oncolytic adenoviruses that are highly selective for replication in tumor cells, with modifications for tumor-targeting, tumor stroma degradation, evasion of neutralizing antibodies, and promotion of tumor immunogenicity.

“Ramon is an internationally recognized expert in oncolytic adenoviruses and as Co-Founder of VCN Biosciences, is uniquely suited to lead Theriva’s discovery program through its next critical phase of development,” said Steven A. Shallcross, CEO of Theriva Biologics. “The acquisition of VCN transformed Theriva’s pipeline, bringing our lead clinical candidate, VCN-01, a systemically administered oncolytic adenovirus designed to selectively replicate within the tumor, remodel the tumor matrix, and increase tumor immunogenicity.”

New Juvenescence CEO speaks out

The recently appointed CEO of longevity biotech Juvenescence Dr Richard Marshall spoke with us to explain 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!

“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,” he told us. “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.”

Celularity CEO on weathering the investment downturn

To learn more about how regenerative medicine company Celularity is progressing amid troubled times for biotech, we spoke to its founder and CEO, Dr Robert Hariri. While some richly capitalized companies in regenerative medicine and cell therapy have either filed for bankruptcy or shut down entirely, Hariri says that challenging economic times like this can also present opportunities.

“I’m anxious to see whether the next 12 to 24 months may see efforts to consolidate the industry by putting companies that have either complementary or enabling technologies together to create greater critical mass – greater survivability,” he told us. “This could also help control the high cost of developing cell therapy products. When there are 300 companies in cell therapy, the field is diluted to capital resources, human resources, and infrastructure. But when you combine or find ways to consolidate some of the enterprises, you create efficiency.”

Samsara lands Parkinson’s research grant

Autophagy targeting biotech Samsara Therapeutics has received a grant from The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to support its research efforts in developing a drug for Parkinson’s disease.

Samsara’s lead candidate SAM001 has exhibited the ability to enhance autophagy and mitigate damage to brain cells affected by Parkinson’s Disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). This dual achievement positions Samsara as a leading force in addressing the pressing clinical needs of neurodegenerative disorders while extending the potential for longer and healthier lives.

“We chose to prioritize investigating autophagy targets in neurodegenerative disorders as there is such a huge unmet clinical need in this area, and very few therapies that delay or slow the progression of these diseases by targeting their underlying cause,” said Peter Hamley, Chief Scientific Officer at Samsara Therapeutics. “A once daily, oral, disease-modifying treatment, like SAM001, could have a tremendous impact – reducing treatment complexity, increasing adherence, improving quality of life for people with Parkinson’s and ALS, extending their ability to remain in the workforce and reducing the cost of care.”

Berlin rejuvenation summit to return in 2024

The Forever Healthy Foundation announced the next Rejuvenation Startup Summit is set to take place in May 2024 in Berlin. Building upon the success of its inaugural event in 2022, which drew over 400 participants from more than 30 countries, this year’s summit aims to further propel the rejuvenation biotech industry forward.

As the world’s largest in-person gathering of longevity startups, the Rejuvenation Startup Summit serves as a hub for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors and researchers interested in joining or launching a startup. The primary objective is to accelerate the development of rejuvenation biotechnology by addressing the underlying causes of age-related diseases.

Hevolution announces grant recipients

Longevity non-profit organization Hevolution Foundation announced the latest recipients of the Hevolution Foundation Advancing Geroscience Efforts grants program. First announced in October 2022, the program funds research deemed meritorious and praiseworthy by the National Institute on Aging.

“HF-AGE was inspired by my time with the NIA, where I saw so many superb grant proposals that were taken through the review process but ultimately not funded, oftentimes simply for lack of resources,” said Felipe Sierra, Chief Scientific Officer of Hevolution Foundation. “I could not be more gratified to see the program come to life via these nine projects that so clearly align with our mission and goals.”