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Startups trying to find a cure for aging have raised $850 million this year



laura deming longevity fund
Longevity Fund’s Laura


  • A recent report published by CB Insights shows that funding
    for aging-related companies has far surpassed previous
  • It comes at a time where scientists are understanding more
    about how humans age and how targeting different elements of
    aging could slow the progression of diseases like heart disease,
    cancer, and diabetes. 
  • Here are the major venture firms, investors, and
    pharmaceutical companies putting money into advancing anti-aging
    research and treatments. 

Funding in the anti-aging field is at an all-time high.

Investors have bet $850 million on aging and longevity startups
so far this year, according to a recent
CB Insights report
. There’s been tremendous growth recently.
That’s up from $324 million last year, and almost nothing before

The burgeoning interest in anti-aging treatments has been fueled
by growing scientific knowledge about
how the aging process works
. In fact, in 2013, the journal
Cell published a paper that outlined the nine key biologic
hallmarks implicated in aging.

Since then, scientists have been working to develop drugs to
tackle specific features of aging. Even the National Institutes
of Health carved out a department dedicated to aging research.

NIH believes that aging
 is the common
factor underlying diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease,
cancer, and diabetes.

By solving aging, scientists could in turn create a universal
cure for all of these diseases, the thinking goes.

More funding translates to greater capacity for research and more
clinical trials. In 2015, there was a jump in the number of
clinical trials targeting aging, and over the last 3 years, that
number has held steady around that new high.

clinical trials agingCB

A record amount of funding flowed into companies involved in the
aging area this year, according to the report. This includes

Samumed’s recent fundraising round that raised $438
. The company wants to use stem cells to
regenerate hair, skin, bones, and joints. Their lead product is a
treatment for osteoarthritis.

One notable venture capital firm investing in the longevity space
is The Longevity Fund headed by
24-year-old Laura Deming
, according to the
report. It manages $37 million, and to date the the
companies it has invested in have gone on to raise a combined
$500 million. 

Longevity Fund has invested in Unity Biotechnology, which

spun out from Mayo Clinic
. Its research into a class of drugs
called senolytics, which kill off zombie-like pre-cancerous cells
that accumulate in aged and damaged tissue, entered human
trials in June and
has the potential to 
multibillion-dollar franchises like AbbVie’s Humira and Amgen’s
, according to analysts at Citi. Unity is also
backed by Jeff Bezos

funding activity longevityCB

Kizoo Technology Ventures has invested in four longevity startups
since 2013, according to the report. Of these, a notable one is

Elevian, which is also backed by Harvard

British billionaire Jim Mellon is also a prominent angel investor
in aging-related startups, according to CB Insights, backing
companies including Juvenescence, Insilico Medicine, and AgeX

Of the major pharmaceutical companies, Novartis and Celgene are
the two main ones investing in aging research.

Novartis recently conducted a study on a drug similar to
rapamycin, to see how it affected elderly patients’ immune
response and risk for infection. The results showed that the
patients’ rate of respiratory infections went down by more than
65% during winter cold and flu season. The research and the
subsequent drugs are being developed by spin-off company
resTORbio, in which Novartis has a 15% stake. 

Celgene also had a spin-off of its own: Celularity,

which wants to use placental stem cells to promote longevity and
treat conditions like cancer and autoimmune disease
. The
startup raised $250 million in February. 

See more coverage from the anti-aging arena:

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