The Third Annual Longevity Therapeutics Summit brought together some of the biggest names translating longevity research into human patients. This is part three of our coverage of this conference; you can find part one here and part two here, and the final installment will be published shortly.
Brian Culley – Lineage Cell Therapeutics
Lineage Cell Therapeutics is a company that works on cell transplantation as a treatment for various age-related diseases. While most companies in this space are focused on stem cells, Lineage uses fully differentiated cells for its treatments. These cells have already been “pushed” towards a specific cell type. Afterwards, the cells cannot differentiate into other cell types. These cells replicate less readily, but their behaviors are more predictable. Lineage is working on applying its technology to target dry age-related macular degeneration with retinal cells, spinal cord injuries with oligodendrocytes, and non-small cell lung cancer with dendritic cells. The company has seen good results thus far in the 24 patients enrolled in its phase 1/2a study for macular degeneration, especially when the intervention was conducted at an early stage. The company also plans to announce data from a similarly sized study in spinal cord injury soon and is currently enrolling cancer patients to receive its novel dendritic cell treatment. Lineage also has made some impressive innovations in manufacturing cell-based products – a notoriously troublesome area in the field of cell therapy.
Dr. Marc Ramis-Castelltort – Rejuveron
Rejuveron is a platform company that funds and supports start-ups that take aim at aging and longevity. Its portfolio companies include Endogena, which utilizes small molecules to facilitate tissue regeneration, RejuverVas, which aims to reduce age-related brain decline by increasing its vascularization, and the newly formed RejuverSen. RejuverSen, which is led by Dr. Ramis-Castelltort, develops therapies for the immune-mediated clearance of senescent cells. Senescent cells are often left behind in cancer treatments and have been shown to contribute to cancer recurrence. Senescent cells also escape immune clearance through a newly discovered mechanism, which RejuverSen intends to utilize for its therapies. The team has also been recently profiling human tumors to help shape their therapeutic strategy. If successful, Dr. Ramis-Castelltort believes that this same concept can be used to eliminate senescent cells in other age-related pathologies.
Colin Watts – JuvLife
Juvenescence, another longevity-based platform company, has been very active in the world of dietary supplements recently with the launch of JuvLife and BHB Therapeutics. This company aims to develop proprietary supplements to increase healthspan in a high-quality, science-based manner. The company has four products in development (with a three-year “bench to market” timetable) and plans to expand to twelve. Mr. Watts hinted that the first, a ketone ester that mimics aspects of the ketogenic diet, fasting, and strenuous exercise, may be available soon. He also presented an inside look at the company’s target consumers and early adopters for its products, having identified through surveys what it refers to as “lifetime optimizers.” These are individuals with a number of positive characteristics led by a strong drive to make the most out of their lives.
Dr. Scott Shandler – Longevity Biotech
Longevity Biotech currently has preclinical programs in neuroinflammation, diabetes, and oncology. Dr. Shandler presented on his company’s clinical stage program for Parkinson’s disease. There is an inverse relationship between neurodegeneration and cancer. In neurodegeneration, misfolded proteins cause a disproportionate pro-inflammatory response, which contributes to the pathology. Simply suppressing the immune system may not be the best strategy. Instead, Longevity Biotech is looking to rebalance the pro-inflammatory versus anti-inflammatory response. In its first clinical study, the company is looking for biomarkers that will identify patients with Parkinson’s who also have immune dysfunction. Unlike more common approaches that immediately attempt to test a therapeutic in a diseased population, this precision medicine strategy will hopefully help determine “responders” and “non-responders” ahead of time to improve the likelihood of successful treatments.
Dr. Marco Quarta – Rubedo
This was the second time we heard from Dr. Quarta, as he gave an excellent opening talk the previous day. Rubedo is targeting natural aging and chemotherapy survivors with its drug design platform. This company has developed the technology to create prodrugs, which are inactive until metabolized by the body, making them more stable and less toxic than their non-prodrug counterparts but just as effective. Reducing side effects will be critical to the success of longevity treatments, as such treatments are more preventative in nature than traditional drugs, which often treat more immediately life-threatening conditions. Rubedo’s lead candidate clears senescent cells, improves physical function, and improves cognition in mouse models of chemotherapy, neurodegeneration, and natural aging. The company is in the midst of lead optimization for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and COPD, and it is looking to start IND enabling studies (an FDA requirement to begin clinical trials) this year. Rubedo also has preclinical stage programs for cancer, neuro-musculo-skeletal problems, and fibrosis of the liver and kidney.