Longevity stocks: Stay private longer?

Going public as a Longevity stock is all about good timing and good clinical results: Some stand-out performers have experienced a volatile year.

The world’s population is getting older and that means one thing: Products that slow, or reverse, the aging process will to be in high-demand. Capital is flowing and a number of tech companies are already public but the last 12 months have been challenging.

Longevity stocks technology clinical pipeline
Clinical pipeline. Source: Science Direct

As with all emerging technology, it’s about financial runway to support delivery of the results required for market approval. Let’s take a look at some of the US Longevity stocks and wish them well with their 2020 pipeline progress:

AgeX Therapeutics Inc is a biotechnology company founded in 2017 by world-leading gerontologist and bioentrepreneur Dr. Michael D. West, Ph.D., who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of understanding nature’s secrets of human aging. He is a highly-regarded pioneer in cellular aging, stem cell research, telomerase and cloning.

We recently reported on AgeX and Lineage Cell Therapeutics being awarded a US patent for ‘Method of Generating Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells’, this on top of the company and Juvenescence publishing on progress in the development of hypoimmunogenic cells:

AgeX Therapeutics - longevity stocks
Source: Google: Market Summary: AgeX Therapeutics Inc., NYSEAMERICAN: AGE, 13 January 2020

Cohbar Inc. is a leader in the research and development of mitochondria based therapeutics (MBTs), an emerging class of drugs with the potential to treat a wide range of diseases associated with aging and metabolic dysfunction including non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), obesity, Type 2 diabetes (T2D), cancer, cardiovascular disease and CNS disorders. The company’s pipeline has 2 therapies at Phase 1a:

Cohbar Inc. longevity stocks
Source: Google: Market Summary: Cohbar, Inc. NASDAQ: CWBR, 13 January 2020

Lineage Cell Therapeutics Lineage Cell Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel cellular therapies to treat unmet medical needs. The company has 2 cell therapies at Phase 2 clinical and development partnerships in the UK and Israel:

MarLineage Cell Therapeutics - longevity stocks
Source: Google: Market Summary: Lineage Cell Therapeutics, NYSEAMERICAN: LCTX, 13 January 2020

In October, Frequency Therapeutics announced an IPO at a price of $14.00 per share [1]. It creates treatments for hearing loss with its main offering called FX-322 which addresses sensorineural hearing loss. Not pure-play Longevity, they are in the process of a phase 2a with top up line results expected in the second half of 2020. So far it’s trading well with a current price of $18.22:

Frequency Therapeutics Inc. longevity stocks
Source: Google: Market Summary: Frequency Therapeutics Inc. NASDAQ: FREQ, 13 January 2020

Unity Biotechnology, meanwhile, has levelled out after bumpy end to 2019 despite reporting highly promising results. The company’s pipeline addresses developing medicines that potentially halt, slow or reverse age-associated diseases, while restoring human health. Today its shares are trading at around $7.20:

Unity Biotechnology Inc longevity stocks
Source: Google: Market Summary: Unity Biotechnology Inc, NASDAQ: UBX, 13 January 2020

In our review of the Longevity investment sector, Dr Aubrey de Grey, Founder and Chief Science Officer of SENS Research Foundation, argued that the problem was not so much with the technology, but the investors themselves.

“To me, this is all about investors who are competing with other investors and who do not care about the actual science and the actual long-term prospects of the company,” he says. “These are people who are short-selling because they think someone’s going to run out of money or they think someone’s going to look as though they’re going to run out of money.”
Another problem has been overreaction. ResTorbio saw its share price decline from close to $10 per share to $1.30, after disappointing phase three clinical trial results.

resTORbio, Inc. longevity stocks
Source: Google: Market Summary: resTORbio, Inc., NASDAQ: TORC, 13 January 2020

Here, de Grey argued that the sector is immature and investors do not understand Longevity completely. It is also a sector in which many entrepreneurs are mission focused, rather than just looking at the returns. This is quite a culture shift for some investors.

There is a huge amount of uncertainty, but the demand is certainly there. According to Research and Markets the anti-aging market is likely to grow from US$50.2bn in 2018 to US$79.5BN in 2024 [2]. The market is poised to explode, but picking the best performers is a sophisticated process.

Back in October 2019 we spoke with Jim Mellon chair and founder of Juvenescence, the biotech incubator creating medical therapies for increased human Longevity, the UK biotech valued at $500m will delay its IPO until the second half of 2020 and plans to use the proceeds from its public offering to move 5 life-extension technologies into phase 2 trials – this looks like a better-timed approach as many of the earlier-phase risks will have been removed.

[1] http://bit.ly/2QQgxrO
[2] https://prn.to/2FHbweW

Image credits: Pexels / Pixabay and Science Direct