Longevity.Technology’s pick of the new biotech longevity companies that emerged from stealth in 2021.
Our full review of the state of longevity last year dives into what has been happening in longevity investment and research, from funds to clinical trials, but we round off our coverage (today and later this week) by looking at some of the new biotech companies that emerged from stealth and what we actually know about what they’re up to.
Capsida Biotherapeutics – new biotech emerging from stealth with $140m
Although current gene therapy approaches have shown dramatic efficacy in several rare diseases, the medicines are hindered by imprecise targeting, an inability to transduce a number of cell types and tissues effectively and have safety liabilities. Specifically, most current-generation approaches use naturally-occurring serotypes of AAV that have limitations in their ability to transduce desired cell types with a therapeutic gene product. Due to lower transduction efficacy, these products may need to be delivered at higher doses and thus may be more likely to induce immunogenic responses and adverse events.
As a result, many monogenetic and sporadic neurodegenerative disorders remain unaddressed by this therapeutic modality. Capsida is addressing these concerns with its AAV engineering platform that generates capsids optimised to target specific tissue types and limits transduction of tissues and cell types that are not relevant to the target disease, allowing for improved efficacy and safety. In addition, Capsida is developing proprietary cargo that delivers effective gene replacement.
Versant Ventures and Westlake Village BioPartners launch next-generation gene therapy company with $50m series A; AbbVie collaboration provides $90m for gene therapies for NS disease targets.
NOVOS – taking a longevity nutraceutical from stealth to market in four weeks
NOVOS is a start-up company that provides consumers with science-based nutraceuticals that harness the latest innovations and discoveries in the life extension and longevity space. NOVOS Core, launched in mid-January 2021 (initially in the US) is a “mix-and-drink” nutraceutical powder containing a patent-pending, 12 ingredient FDA-approved formulation, which will act synergistically to slow down aging. Ingredients, which include fisetin, pterostilbene, micro-dosed lithium and calcium alpha-ketoglutarate, were selected only if they had demonstrated an impact on specific aging mechanisms, such as protein accumulation, a dysregulated epigenome, or senescent cells, and extended lifespan, preferably in multiple unrelated species. Verburgh believes this contrasts with other supplement company offerings that base themselves on “outdated” insights into aging, like the notion that antioxidants can slow the aging process or that minerals and herbs can extend lifespan. NOVOS is not just a nutraceutical company but a platform for people across the world who want to live a long and healthy life. NOVOS will offer newsletters, ebooks and webinars to share new insights into Longevity field. Furthermore, its customer base will be offered both free and premium longevity tests, such as facial AI tests and epigenetic tests, that track biological age.
NOVOS announced the close of $3.15 million in pre-seed financing in August 2021. The 300% oversubscribed round was led by Resolute Ventures with support from Arkitekt Ventures, Longevitytech.fund, Awesome People Ventures and 20 institutional investors and entrepreneurs. The round was led by Mike Hirshland, Partner of Resolute Ventures. Hirshland has invested in dozens of successful companies, including Automattic (WordPress) and Bark, which IPOed in 2021. He founded Dogpatch Labs, from which Instagram was launched.
Cambrian Biopharma – exiting stealth with $60m and an affiliate IPO
By working like a hub-and-spoke model to develop a family of companies, Cambrian hopes to promote a thriving environment, building expert teams in drug discovery, development, clinical trials, finance and market analysis as a shared resource for each pipeline company to use. This “unique operational strategy” is called DisCo, or distributed drug discovery company. Cambrian has put three major categories of aging at the top of its to-do list; it plans to tackle intracellular dysfunction (things that go wrong inside cells, such as mutating DNA or shrinking telomeres), cellular dysfunction (whole-cell level problems, such as senescence or energy pathway break down) and tissue level dysfunction (stem cells exhaustion, chronic inflammation, or the breakdown of tissue architecture).
James Peyer co-founded Cambrian along with seasoned biotech investor and entrepreneur Christian Angermayer, who serves as Cambrian’s chairman. While in stealth mode, the company raised $60 million from a syndicate of long-term investors including Angermayer’s Apeiron Investment Group, Future Ventures, Catalio Capital Management, Brent Saunders, Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital and others. Peyer and Angermayer are joined on Cambrian’s Board of Directors by Maryanna Saenko, Partner at Future Ventures, and Marty Chavez, the former CFO of Goldman Sachs, as a Board Observer. In October 2021, Cambrian Biopharma announced the close of an oversubscribed Series C financing, which raised $100 million. The financing was co-led by Anthos Capital and SALT Fund, with participation from existing investors Apeiron Investment Group, Future Ventures, Moore Capital and others, to develop therapeutics to combat the biological drivers of aging, treat and prevent age-related diseases and lengthen healthspan. With this financing, Cambrian has raised approximately $160 million since the company was founded in 2019.
Wild Biotech – the start-up that emerged with a wild microbiota library
Wild Biotech, a preclinical stage drug discovery and development company, emerged from stealth mode in March 2021, boasting a database of more than 1,200 gut bacteria harvested from animals ranging from vultures to Tasmanian Devils. 75% of these microbiota were previously unknown, says the Israel-based biotech. The company also announced the publication of its first major paper, which appeared in the journal Science.
The study mapped the gut microbiota of animals in the wild on a massive scale, adding millions of potentially novel microbiome-based therapeutics for human diseases to the company’s large database. Wild plan to use these findings initially to investigate its database for targets in inflammatory, immune and gastrointestinal diseases. Wild applies cutting-edge AI tools to decipher the therapeutic potential of its database and identify proteins, peptides, bacteriophages and other agents with direct activity on targets in human diseases. The company hopes its database will give it a unique place in the market, because, unlike microbes found in the ocean or soil, the gut microbiota of animals is the most relevant and directly translatable to human therapeutics.
Wild Biotech is funded by private investors Marius Nacht and TechBio, and is so far keeping its pipeline under wraps; while it has not disclosed details about its pipeline, it has teased it is looking at immune diseases, which could include asthma or autoimmune disease.
Parkinson’s and obesity research is also looking at a microbiome approach, and the human microbiome market, which was valued at $351.81m in 2018, is continuing to enjoy considerable growth fueled by rising incidences of diabetes, an aging population and pharmaceutical research. For instance, MaaT Pharma raised $20 million last year to progress a microbiota biotherapeutic
Discover four more new kids on the longevity block HERE.