Life Biosciences raises $50M as longevity race heats up

Life Biosciences has raised $50 million. The series B round will support the startup’s efforts to build a portfolio of subsidiaries with assets targeting eight aging pathways.

Like Juvenescence, which also revealed series B funding this week, Life Biosciences is funneling cash into a clutch of startups that are working on different ways to tackle age-related diseases with a view to ultimately extending healthy life spans. The model has led Life Biosciences to found six subsidiaries that have access to shared lab space and artificial intelligence capabilities as well as to invest in Prana Biotechnology.

Life Biosciences’ CEO Tristan Edwards thinks the portfolio gives his company a foothold in all the key areas of anti-aging research, including cell senescence and stem cell exhaustion. 

“We are tackling all eight pathways of age-related decline,” Edwards told the Financial Times.

Life Biosciences put together the portfolio using $25 million it quietly raised in 2017. To support the advance of the programs, the startup has reeled in a further $50 million. Wealthy individuals and family trusts, not traditional biotech VCs, have largely bankrolled Life Biosciences’ rise so far, adding to the trend for longevity startups to rely on nontraditional sources of money for drug development. 

The startups in Life Biosciences’ portfolio are still some way from showing whether the investments will pay off. The most advanced program in development at Senolytic Therapeutics, one of the few portfolio companies with an independent website, is a preclinical-stage effort to eliminate senescent cells in fibrotic diseases and certain cancers.

Such programs are the most visible evidence of Life Biosciences’ work to date. The people behind the Boston-based startup, including Harvard scientist David Sinclair and WeWork’s Adam Neumann, have spent the past few years quietly mapping out plans to claim a stronghold in the nascent anti-aging sector. 

Life Biosciences initially went about building that stronghold very quietly so as not to alert potential competitors to its plans. But the company has started to dial up the volume now that it thinks it has put the foundation for success in place. 

“We have undertaken a big land-grab of longevity-related intellectual property and we have pulled together a lot of the world’s longevity scientists,” Edwards said. 

Life Biosciences started to become more vocal about its activities last year, when it revealed it had 90 employees and a clutch of subsidiaries working on candidates targeting aging pathways. These staff will now work to turn $50 million into drugs that put meaningful dents in age-related diseases.