Longevity biotech targets rejuvenation with gene therapies and partial epigenetic reprogramming by Yamanaka factors.
Seattle-based longevity biotech YouthBio Therapeutics has emerged from stealth mode, revealing it is working on the development of “gene therapies aimed at epigenetic rejuvenation, particularly with the help of partial reprogramming by Yamanaka factors.” The company boasts some top longevity science talent, with Dr João Pedro de Magalhães serving as its chief scientific officer and Dr Alejandro Ocampo as lead research collaborator.
Longevity.Technology: Cellular reprogramming is hot, hot hot! YouthBio joins a growing list of companies, including Altos Labs, Shift Bioscience and Turn Bio, among others, all aiming to change the course of human health through this exciting, yet early stage, science. Like everyone else, we’ll be watching all the players very closely – where will the first major breakthrough come from?
Cellular reprogramming is the process by which aged cells can be returned to a pluripotent (embryonic-like) state. This process, which can be achieved using Yamanaka factors, also improves the cells’ aging hallmarks. Partial reprogramming means that Yamanaka factors are induced only for short periods, which is not enough to fully change cells beyond a point of no return but is enough to induce rejuvenation.
Strong scientific team
There is no doubt that YouthBio’s scientific team has great credentials. As the head of the Integrative Genomics of Ageing Group at Liverpool University, de Magalhães is one of the world’s top researchers on the aging process and how it can be manipulated to prevent age-related diseases and improve human health.
“Cellular reprogramming allows us to rejuvenate cells and reset their biological clocks,” said de Magalhães. “It is the most important technology available today for developing rejuvenation therapies, although it still needs to be fine-tuned for effective and safe applications. Exploiting cellular reprogramming to develop therapies for age-related diseases is extremely exciting and, if successful, may result in a paradigm shift in medicine.”
University of Lausanne professor Ocampo is recognised as a pioneer of the partial reprogramming field. He is credited with the development of technology to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial diseases and demonstrated the amelioration of age-associated hallmarks by partial cellular reprogramming.
“I am delighted to collaborate with YouthBio in order to accelerate the clinical translation of cellular reprogramming for the treatment of age-associated diseases,” said Dr. Ocampo. “It is very exciting to see how fast this technology is advancing since our initial observations regarding its capacity to reverse aging only five years ago.”
Aiming to “add decades of healthy life”
YouthBio was founded in early 2021 by biotech entrepreneur Yuri Deigin (CEO) and angel investor Viet Ly (CFO). Deigin has led several early-stage pharmaceutical startups and claims to have been a “vocal proponent” of epigenetic rejuvenation by partial reprogramming since 2017.
“I am very optimistic that in the next 10 years science will provide humanity with major breakthroughs that will enable us to add decades of healthy life to people,” said Deigin. “Partial reprogramming is something I was always excited about as having the potential to be one such therapy.”
“I have been an early investor in multiple industries for almost two decades, and I don’t think I have seen a sector with as much potential as longevity biotech is showing right now,” said Ly, who serves as a strategic advisor to Genprex, a gene therapy biotech company and was an early investor in companies including Airbnb, SpaceX, and Virgin Hyperloop.