Juvenescence, an anti-aging startup based in the British Isles, reeled in a $50 million series A, which will allow it to push forward on its "core projects" and ramp up licensing deals and partnerships. This fundraiser brings the company's total raised since its founding to $63 million.
The Isle of Man-based Juvenescence is looking to advance therapeutics for human longevity by creating, partnering with, or investing in companies with anti-aging or age-related projects, according to a statement. It will do so by in-licensing assets from academia and industry and by forming joint ventures.
"This round of financing will allow us to accelerate our licensing and partnership arrangements along with existing product development. The funding also allows us to increase the development of our AI-generated programs," said CEO Greg Bailey in the statement.
“We have sourced a portfolio of compelling therapies, some of which we will endeavour to take into the clinic in the medium term and others which we hope to commercialise in the nearer term,” Bailey told the Financial Times.
“We aim to have about 20 shots on this goal—longevity science—and if we get two or three of them right, there will be a very good return to shareholders,” said Juvenescence Chairman Jim Mellon, FT reported.
While Mellon said Juvenescence is working "at record speed" to "add years of healthy life to every human being," the company did not specify what its core projects were.
"We are focused on all aspects of aging, from modifying cellular aging through regeneration through to implementing stem cells in regeneration," Bailey told FierceBiotech. "We have two drugs we've worked on through preclinical that we're preparing for IND and another eight under letter of intent that we hope this summer to move forward as far as preclinical."
Juvenescence's portfolio includes Insilico Medicine, a Baltimore-based startup working on drug discovery through computer modeling, Juvenescence AI, a JV with Insilico focused on developing AI-generated compounds, NetraPharma, which is using AI to improve clinical trial design, and LyGenesis, a company looking to use a patient’s own lymph nodes to grow functioning ectopic organs. It counts the likes of Declan Doogan and Annalisa Jenkins among its leadership team. Along withe Bailey and Mellon, they are all "intrigued by the ability to use machine learning and AI to facilitate drug discovery," Bailey said.
Juvenescence plans to announce further deals and boost its team with "a full suite of relevant professionals" in the coming months." Based on its success hitting "key milestones" over the next year, the company will review future funding requirements and is considering a potential IPO in 2019, it said in the statement.
Juvenescence is hardly this only player looking to tackle human aging. Unity Biotechnology recently pulled off a $55 million series C and filed to raise up to $85 million in its IPO. The capital will set the California-based biotech to move two drugs into human testing—its lead program, UBX0101, an inhibitor of the MDM2-p53 protein interaction, is due to start testing in patients with osteoarthritis, while UBX1967, an inhibitor of certain Bcl-2 apoptosis regulatory proteins, will enter the clinic next year.
But the field has seen its ups and downs, with J. Craig Venter stepping down last month from Human Longevity, Inc., the company he set up in 2014 to compile the most comprehensive database on human genotypes and phenotypes to aid in the development of treatments for age-related diseases.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from CEO Greg Bailey.