Longevity investment bulletin: Longeveron, SENISCA, Form Bio and more

The latest longevity updates from our investment news desk.

Longeveron doses first patient in frailty trial

Regenerative medicine company Longeveron (NASDAQ: LGVN) announced that the first patient has been treated in its Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with aging-related frailty in Japan. The trial aims to enroll 45 patients and its primary objective is to evaluate safety.

The Phase 2 clinical trial is a 3-arm, parallel design, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind single infusion study of two different dose levels of Lomecel-B. The trial is expected to enroll 45 patients and has a primary objective of evaluating safety of Lomecel-B as a treatment for aging-related frailty. The trial is being conducted in partnership with the National Center for Geriatrics & Gerontology and Juntendo University Hospital.

“I am pleased to see this clinical trial program advancing, especially given the large unmet need in Japan, where nearly 30% of the population is over the age of 65,” said Dr Hidenori Arai, President of the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, and principal investigator of the Phase 2 trial. “I was encouraged by Longeveron’s previously announced Phase 2b Aging-Related Frailty study in the United States, where subjects receiving a single infusion of Lomecel-B showed a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in walking distance at 9 months post-infusion compared to placebo. I look forward to building on that data in the Japanese population.”

SENISCA awarded grant funding

Senescence-targeting biotech SENISCA announced it has been awarded a £571,350 grant from Innovate UK towards the development of oligonucleotide therapeutics for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

SENISCA is developing novel advanced biologic therapies utilising oligonucleotides, short strands of DNA or RNA, engineered to reverse senescence in IPF-specific tissues. Early preclinical data generated by SENISCA have shown that these proprietary senotherapeutic oligonucleotides have beneficial impact on IPF biomarkers.

“Our technology has real disruptive potential for the treatment of the diseases of aging,” said Professor Lorna Harries, SENISCA’s Chief Scientific Officer. “This is an exciting research project that will build on the previous work carried out by SENISCA that led to the identification of a new and druggable set of target genes which enable significant senescence reversal effect in primary human cell models.”

Form Bio teams up with PacBio

Research and discovery platform Form Bio has joined the PacBio Compatible program. With the combination of Form Bio’s data analysis capabilities and PacBio’s sequencing solutions, scientists can enhance their understanding of the genetic components underlying disease and ultimately improve AAV gene therapies in their application to a vast spectrum of diseases.

PacBio is a developer of high-quality, highly accurate sequencing solutions, providing the advantage of being able to sequence entire, intact constructs with high accuracy. The ability to produce full length reads is important for AAV gene therapy discovery and for confirming the quality of these constructs.

“We’re thrilled to team up with PacBio to help advance gene therapy discovery and development,” said Kent Wakeford, co-CEO at Form Bio. “This partnership brings together our technology and expertise to provide an ‘easy button’ for PacBio customers, who are looking to get the most out of their HiFi sequencing data but face practical constraints with bioinformatics or computational resources.”

GenSight withdraws EMA application for LUMEVOQ

Gene therapy company GenSight Biologics announced it has withdrawn its European Medicines Agency application for LUMEVOQ, a gene therapy for retinal neurodegenerative disease.

The decision enables the company to discuss the best possible path forward for LUMEVOQ with the EMA in the coming weeks, aiming at submitting a new application addressing remaining objections as soon as possible, in Europe and other countries. The company is exploring options including generating new clinical data, which may induce material delays and additional costs.

“We disagree with the current CAT assessment and remain highly confident in the clinical benefit of LUMEVOQ for LHON patients, which is supported by extensive evidence from multiple clinical trials and real-world data,” said Bernard Gilly, CEO of GenSight Biologics. “The decision to withdraw our application allows us to continue to work with EMA to agree as soon as possible on a regulatory path forward.”

NRG appoints VP of Biology

Mitochondrial dysfunction neuroscience company NRG Therapeutics announced the appointment of Dr Vlad Lazari as VP of Biology. Lazari assumes responsibility for managing internal and external biology resources to advance the company’s pre-clinical pipeline of small molecule assets which inhibit the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) through a novel mode of action (MOA).

Bringing two decades of experience in R&D gained at Charles River, Pfizer, and BioFocus DPI, Lazari joins from Charles River, where over his 10-year tenure he led projects and teams working across a wide range of therapeutic areas in both hit finding and compound optimization projects, including assay development, screening cascade design and biomarker development.

 “NRG’s ground-breaking discoveries pointing to the role of the mPTP in neurodegenerative diseases has enabled the discovery of small molecule mitochondrial therapeutics targeting the pore,” said Lazari. “It’s a very exciting time to be joining the Company as it focuses on pre-clinical candidate selection and progression into IND-enabling studies.”

Fountain promotes Messier to CMO

Preventive health company Fountain Life announced the promotion of Dr Helen Messier to Chief Medical Officer (CMO). A scientist and a certified family practice physician who specializes in harnessing data to close the translational gap in medicine, Messier joined Fountain Life in 2022 as Chief Clinical and Scientific Officer.

In her role as CMO, Messier will lead the company’s medical, clinical, and scientific teams and oversee the establishment of Fountain Life University to train certified practitioners. Dr. Messier will also spearhead efforts to gain insights and publish findings from Fountain Life’s vast amount of data and will continue to serve as the medical director for Fountain Life’s newest center in Lake Nona, Florida.

“Helen’s background as a practicing physician, combined with her expertise in clinical science and digital health, make her an exceptional choice for the chief medical officer role at Fountain Life,” said Bill Kapp, Fountain Life CEO and co-founder. “Her dedication to helping people live longer and healthier lives and passion for sharing her knowledge with other practitioners is evident throughout her career. We are fortunate to have her on our leadership team.”

Hevolution awards 18 longevity projects

Saudi-backed longevity non-profit Hevolution Foundation and the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) announced 18 recipients of “New Investigator Awards” for aging biology and geroscience research. The three-year awards of $375,000 each have been granted to support research projects, amounting to $6.75 million in funding to support talented early career investigators.

“In partnership with AFAR, Hevolution Foundation is excited to strengthen the international pipeline of aging researchers through the New Investigator Awards,” said Dr Felipe Sierra, Chief Scientific Officer, Hevolution Foundation. “We want to help fill the void and speed the pace of scientific discovery on the processes of aging by dramatically increasing the research workforce. This initial round of grants is a significant step toward that goal.”

Longevity event announces call for startups

The exclusive Longevity Investors Conference (LIC) announced that eight startups will be given the chance to present in front of an audience of high-net-worth investors. The event, to be held in Gstaad later this year, will host a dedicated “Start-Up Showcase” session affords startups the opportunity to present themselves and possibly win further support from investors in the audience.

“The longevity industry is becoming a hot topic and we know many investors looking for fresh ideas and Start-Ups to invest in,” said Marc P Bernegger, co-founder of the Longevity Investors Conference and Founding Partner of Maximon. “That is why we want to show them the best emerging companies and founders in the field.”