Elevian is a company that we have been keeping an eye on for a while, as it works on identifying blood factors that can spur regeneration. In particular, the company has been working with a naturally occurring molecule known as growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11).
Previous research has shown that when aged mice are given GDF11, it reduces age-related cardiac hypertrophy, accelerates skeletal muscle repair, improves exercise capacity, improves brain function and cerebral blood flow, and improves metabolism [1-8].
The company is developing new drugs that can target the GDF11 pathway in order to spur rejuvenation of tissue. Its lead drug candidate, recombinant GDF11, has had positive results in preclinical models of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart failure, and obesity. Elevian is also focused on the development of novel proteins, antibodies and small molecule drugs that can also target the GDF11 pathway.
Today, we were pleased to hear that Elevian has closed a $15 million equity financing deal. The funding will be used to take recombinant GDF11 to the clinic and will initially be tested on people who have suffered from a stroke, but the company aims to expand its scope to include trials for other age-related diseases.
Among the various funding partners, we were delighted once again to see that Kizoo Ventures was one of the groups supporting this funding round. We really appreciate how Michael Greve and the rest of the team at Kizoo have been supporting many promising new biotech companies working on aging in recent years. He and his team are also the driving force behind the excellent annual Undoing Aging conferences, which bring our community together to exchange ideas and listen to the latest research.
In addition to the funding increase, Elevian has also expanded its staff and added Suzanne Fletcher and Dan Marshak to its board of directors. Dr. Yongting Wang has also joined as the director of Protein Biochemistry & Neuroscience.
We have included additional information from Elevian’s press release below.
In conjunction with the financing, Elevian has appointed Suzanne Fletcher and Dan Marshak to its board of directors. Fletcher is a general partner at Prime Movers Lab, investing in breakthrough scientific startups, with 20 years of experience working in the technology and investment space. Biotech industry veteran Marshak is a former senior executive at PerkinsElmer, Cambrex Therapeutics and Osiris Therapeutics and sits on the board of Tecan Group, InVivo Therapeutics, and LifeVault Bio. Marshak will advise Elevian in its biopharmaceutical manufacturing program.
“Recombinant GDF11 is a novel therapy and approach to treating stroke and other age-related diseases. Elevian has assembled a team of excellent leaders to develop this multi-disease therapy,” said Fletcher. “We look forward to supporting this innovative company focused on treating devastating diseases.”
Elevian also expanded its executive leadership team. Yongting Wang, Ph.D. has joined as the director of Protein Biochemistry & Neuroscience. Dr. Wang leads Elevian’s protein biochemistry efforts, including the production and scale-up of rGDF11, as well as leading Elevian’s preclinical neuroscience development programs, including stroke. After a post-doc from MIT, Dr. Wang was formerly professor of neuroscience at Shanghai Jiaotong University, investigating the mechanism of injury and repair after ischemic stroke.
“The support and commitment from our new and existing investors demonstrate confidence in Elevian’s vision to treat multiple age-related diseases by targeting the GDF11 pathway,” said Mark Allen, M.D., CEO and co-founder of Elevian. “We are focused now on advancing our first drug, rGDF11 toward the clinic both to promote recovery after stroke and to treat obesity. The expansion of our executive team and the additions to our board of directors will help to guide Elevian as we enhance our understanding of aging and age-related diseases.”
Dr. Allen and Elevian were recently featured in a Prime Movers Lab webinar exploring the top trends and technologies in human longevity, alongside Professor David Sinclair, Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Aubrey de Grey, SENS Research Foundation.
 Conboy, I. M., Conboy, M. J., Wagers, A. J., Girma, E. R., Weissman, I. L., & Rando, T. A. (2005). Rejuvenation of aged progenitor cells by exposure to a young systemic environment. Nature, 433(7027), 760.
 Loffredo, F. S., Steinhauser, M. L., Jay, S. M., Gannon, J., Pancoast, J. R., Yalamanchi, P., … & Miller, C. M. (2013). Growth differentiation factor 11 is a circulating factor that reverses age-related cardiac hypertrophy. Cell, 153(4), 828-839.
 Sinha, M., Jang, Y. C., Oh, J., Khong, D., Wu, E. Y., Manohar, R., … & Hirshman, M. F. (2014). Restoring systemic GDF11 levels reverses age-related dysfunction in mouse skeletal muscle. Science, 344(6184), 649-652.
 Katsimpardi, L., Litterman, N. K., Schein, P. A., Miller, C. M., Loffredo, F. S., Wojtkiewicz, G. R., … & Rubin, L. L. (2014). Vascular and neurogenic rejuvenation of the aging mouse brain by young systemic factors. Science, 344(6184), 630-634.
 Walker, R. G., Poggioli, T., Katsimpardi, L., Buchanan, S. M., Oh, J., Wattrus, S., … & Thompson, T. B. (2016). Biochemistry and biology of GDF11 and myostatin: similarities, differences, and questions for future investigation. Circulation research, 118(7), 1125-1142.
 Walker, R. G., Czepnik, M., Goebel, E. J., McCoy, J. C., Vujic, A., Cho, M., … & Bernard, D. J. (2017). Structural basis for potency differences between GDF8 and GDF11. BMC biology, 15(1), 19.
 Walker, R. G., McCoy, J. C., Czepnik, M., Mills, M. J., Hagg, A., Walton, K. L., … & Harrison, C. A. (2018). Molecular characterization of latent GDF8 reveals mechanisms of activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(5), E866-E875.
 Ozek, C., Krolewski, R. C., Buchanan, S. M., & Rubin, L. L. (2018). Growth Differentiation Factor 11 treatment leads to neuronal and vascular improvements in the hippocampus of aged mice. Scientific reports, 8(1), 17293.