While the industry is not yet moving at the pace I expected many years ago, as people choose to focus on issues that they believe are more urgent than longevity, there is definitely more activity in longevity biotechnology than 20 years ago.
Usually, as we have observed with the Internet, semiconductors, and mobile phones, as the industry grows, it tends to sprout the information and analytical portals, discussion groups, and other community resources.
In longevity biotechnology, several such portals emerged in recent years. Non-profit resources such as Lifespan.io catering to the general public and focusing on advocacy, collections of tools such as senescense.info run by Dr. Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, community blogs such as FightAging.org, etc. But one standout, for-profit portal maintaining professional editorial staff and branching out into the many areas like investment brokerage and consumer education, is Longevity.Technology.
I grabbed some time with the founder of Longevity.Technology, Phil Newman, to talk about his views on the sector and why he considers the next few years will witness significant growth in longevity science and investment:
Why did you start Longevity.Technology?
In 2018 I felt there was an opportunity to launch a news platform to address both the scientific and commercial progress that was starting to happen to build confidence with investors and help those in the sector feel that they were part of something defined – over these 4 years I’ve seen longevity shift from being a movement into being an industry.
We launched Longevity.Technology in September 2019; since then we’ve grown very fast and our ambition now is to bridge from the business/science community into the consumer/user community; we see longevity being the next big growth-factor in the wellness and healthcare markets.
How do you define longevity?
There are four domains to longevity, all of which contribute to improving quality of life during longer healthspans:
1. Prevention: prevent damage that causes aging;
2. Diagnostics: early identification of aging damage;
3. Treatment: treatment of damage that has occurred;
4. Renewal: reversal of damage that has occurred.
Our market intelligence unit is deeply analysing 500 longevity specific companies that are categorized across these four domains and the datasets we’re building identify the technology readiness and investment traction these companies are making – this gives us a unique advantage to identify serious longevity companies and build relationships with investors.
Is longevity on the radars of investors?
Absolutely, and investment activity is really picking-up. $4.1B has already been invested into longevity businesses in 2022, beating the whole of 2021. Investment had already doubled between 2020 ($1.8B) and 2021 ($3.8B). The deal size for Altos Labs announced in January was $2.2B, making-up 54% of 2022 funding to date, but there are also going to be similar sized announcements during the course of this year so we expect a doubling of investment capital, again, year-on-year.
This is wonderful to see and of course the benefits for humankind are going to be manifold: Professors Scott, Sinclair and Ellison’s economic data suggests that lowering mortality and frailty at every age, to increase life expectancy for US citizens, is estimated to be worth $37 Trillion in net present value terms, that’s $700 Billion annually.
This is why longevity is such an exciting industry and why more and more people are getting it!
What is driving longevity investment growth?
Aging is not recognized as a disease by the US FDA, therefore traditional pharmaceutical financial models still cannot be applied to longevity biotechs, however the trajectory for the various therapeutics we see making their way through clinical pipelines is positive. Yes, some will fail, but others won’t, and these companies are working on the big ticket diseases of aging like Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular, and atherosclerosis.
We will see FDA-funded therapeutics coming out of longevity biotechs, but in addition, their work is enabling a better understanding of aging pathways and how they can be controlled, thus leading to newly recognised endpoints. Sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength as a result of aging, is a recently recognised disease and there are companies working on sarcopenia therapeutics that will ultimately have an exit route for their investors: so we’ll see yet more age-related conditions recognised as interventions become validated.
Will we see aging categorized as a disease?
One day yes, but not any day soon, however, I’m confident that we’ll see public health bodies like the FDA or the UK NHS approving longevity therapeutics within 7 years that either stop or reverse age-related decline; hopefully sooner, the burden on individuals, families and healthcare systems is increasing every year.
What are the exciting areas of longevity R&D?
The longevity market is set for explosive growth: the business opportunity in longevity has already started. Everyone is getting very excited about cellular reprogramming and rejuvenation – we’re planning deep-dive reports on these new longevity areas to educate the market help get more exciting longevity companies funded:
Cellular rejuvenation: could be a gold mine in the field of longevity as it holds the potential to treat not one disease but a variety of age-related diseases at the same time. This is because it targets one common ‘risk factor’ these conditions have in common – aged cells. Although cell rejuvenation sounds too good to be true, recent scientific advances are bringing it closer to reality; as demonstrated by a 2020 study carried out by Vittorio Sebastiano and his team. The results of the study are the first to achieve such significant results and this is likely to exponentially propel this exciting area of research.
Tissue engineering: brings with it the possibility of building new tissues and new organs which could replace injured or damaged ones ultimately allowing the body to heal itself. Not only does this have the potential to save more lives, but it also brings with it huge economic benefits by reducing the burden placed on the healthcare services.
Mitochondrial rejuvenation: Mitochondria has long been known as the ‘powerhouse of the cell’; aging is associated with a decline in mitochondrial function; it explains why a 5-year-old has endless energy compared to an 85-year-old. Mitochondrial rejuvenation holds the potential to improve the physiological aging process and bring about greater physical welling.
Pet longevity: Studying longevity in animals has many benefits. Firstly, the cost associated with research is much lower. Secondly, the timescale to see possible benefits from various interventions is shorter. Dogs can offer valuable insight into human longevity, as not only have we evolved with them, but we often share the same environment as them.
Longevity supplements: Supplements are classified as food ingredients and if they are proven to be safe they can access the market quickly. Longevity supplements haven’t been designed to just top-up nutrients missing from peoples’ diets; they can act on key aging pathways or longevity determinants to improve healthspan at any age. We’re helping 2 companies with their funding: one has human evidence to prove decrease in biological age; the other compresses the polyphenol benefits of the Mediterranean diet into a daily capsule.
Senolytics: Cellular senescence – the zombie state in which cells forget to die – is one of the nine hallmarks of aging: targeting and eliminating these cells is thought to have potential for Longevity benefits in humans. There are a number of companies working on senolytics and other ways to target senescence, termed “senotherapeutics”. With this growth in the field, there is an increasing body of preclinical evidence showing the promise of targeting senescence for preventing age-related disease.
Diagnostics: No two 68-year-olds are the same; one might be a marathon runner while the other smokes a twenty cigarettes a day. Research is revealing that not only do people age at different rates, but it could be that each of the organs and tissues within the body do to. Diagnostic tools that aid accurate health assessments of how fast the body is aging could offset the increasing demand faced by the healthcare industry caused by a multiplying aging population.
Is the current downturn on public markets effecting longevity investing?
To a degree, yes, we are seeing some early-stage companies struggling to raise the capital they need. However, there is still strong appetite in biotech and companies that have strong IP and well-defined markets are still attracting investor interest.
As you well-know, the clinical pathway will take many years and therefore longevity biotechs will ride-out this current blip in the financial market. We’ve seen no slowdown in investors’ interest in longevity.
What are you plans for Longevity.Technology?
We are currently fundraising for our own seed round – we have lots to do, but also lots of traction to build upon: Longevity.Technology is central to longevity market expansion: we are a leading media destination; our unique longevity-focused brokerage operation has growing deal flow and we continue to develop commercial and scientific datasets to increase our analytical advantage and build intellectual capital.
We are already revenue generating and approaching breakeven – we are raising >$2M in this round to scale-up for Series A and then IPO.
Meet Phil Newman at the 9th Annual ARDD conference in Copenhagen, the world’s largest event on aging research and drug discovery. Longevity.Technology will be covering some of the talks and industry news from the event.