The ever-growing longevity space means 2022 is full of promise.
2021 has been an exciting year for longevity research, developments, investments and launches; as interest in the sector grows, more pieces slot into the jigsaw that makes up the longevity landscape, shaping its economy and its future and, therefore, the future of us all.
As the end of the year grows nigh, we reflect on some of 2021’s most interesting developments in the wider longevity landscape.
Launch of the Longevity Biotech Association
November saw leading lights from across the longevity sector come together in London to announce the formation of the Longevity Biotechnology Association (LBA). The non-profit organisation says it aims to represent those behind the development of “new medicines and therapies to prevent and cure, rather than merely manage, the health conditions of late life.”
Founders include Juvenescence co-founder and chairman Jim Mellon, Cambrian Biopharma founder James Peyer, and Mehmood Khan, CEO of Hevolution Foundation and on the academic side, Harvard’s David Sinclair, Nir Barzilai from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Brian Kennedy from the National University of Singapore. In addition to Peyer, biotech company CEOs include BioAge’s Kristen Fortney, Joe Betts-Lacroix of Retro Biosciences, and Matthias Steger of Rejuveron Life Sciences. Beyond Mellon and Kahn, investors are also represented by The Longevity Fund’s Laura Deming, Nils Regge of Apollo Health Ventures, Michael Greve of the Forever Healthy Foundation and Longevity Vision Fund’s Sergey Young.
“Longevity needs a champion – there is no way the NHS or Medicare can afford the coming situation where there are more old people than children,” Kahn said at the launch.
“Philanthropy needs to happen at a national level, but the solution has to be scalable and democratised – a solution for the few is no solution at all.”
Longevity Biotech Fellowship launches
Kicking off in June, the On Deck Longevity Biotech Fellowship is on a mission to increase the number of people working to build longevity biotechnology companies. Nathan Cheng, ODLB’s Program Director hopes the Fellowship will address the fact that as more and more capital flows into the antiaging biotechnology sector, the major obstacle to progress has become the lack of founders.
Cheng told us: “Many mission-driven individuals who want to get involved in longevity biotechnology don’t know how to get started, or feel like they don’t have the necessary background, network, or resources to have an impact – The Fellowship aims to change that.”
A resounding success, over 460 people applied for the fellowship, with 130 fellows accepted into ODLB1; mentors include David Sinclair, Reason, Marco Quarta, Kristen Fortney, Jean Hebert, Matt Kaeberlein, Daniel Ives, Dina Radenkovic, Sebastian Brunemeier – far too many to list here, so do check out their website! Applications are now open for the second cohort and we look forward to reporting on that in 2022.
A portal to success
June was also the launch of our new investment portal, bringing investors and innovators together. We see it as part of our mission to support the companies that will form the longevity economy, and to that end, our investment portal introduces longevity tech companies to VC funds, family offices, high net worth and sophisticated investors.
Launching with three deals (Occuity, iamYiam and PCL Health), we have added more throughout the year, and we head into 2022 with ten deals available. Companies seeking pre-seed to Series A equity finance are welcome to get in touch to see how we can help.
Solid longevity foundation needs to build on translational geroscience
European Longevity Initiative (ELI), the advocacy group with members from more than thirteen EU countries, which counts scientists, entrepreneurs and professionals from relevant categories among its members published an Opinion Piece and Detailed Commentary on the EU Green Paper on Ageing.
“We are crystal clear about the meaning of the new consensus paradigm in aging research concerning the malleability of the process and the translational geroscience paradigm aiming to act upon it … We know that the only comprehensive and permanent solution sufficient to handle the demographic challenges are science-intensive healthy longevity technologies slowing down biological aging processes in a combined manner to extend functional, healthy lifespan as much as possible. Only by maximising this trend can we enable and expect healthy and active ageing and lifelong learning.”
ELI founder, Attila Csordas, introduced ELI’s Conference on the Future of Europe proposal at a European Parliament Conference plenary preparatory in October and the proposal remains one of the most endorsed posts on the Reddit longevity forum this year, with a whopping 591 endorsements.
Funding shift towards preventing aging and age-related disease.
The National Institute on Aging, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, invited applications for longevity clinical trials to slow aging and prevent or treat age-related diseases in February of this year.
Previously, the FDA has approved biotech interventions that address individual diseases, rather than tackling aging itself. However, this funding opportunity is available to researchers who want to treat multiple chronic conditions by modulating fundamental aging-related mechanisms. In short, those who want to target aging itself. As we said at the time, this paradigm shift in approach was fantastic news for longevity research, as the US Government began putting its federal dollars where its mouth is.
NIA announces funding for longevity clinical trials
We’ll be bringing you more 2021 highlights through the week – stay tuned!