Paul Berns and Laura Deming

Ex­clu­sive: ARCH-backed ex­er­cise-in-a-pill start­up qui­et­ly laid off half its staff, ‘ful­ly piv­ot­ed’ in Oc­to­ber

In De­cem­ber 2019, a tiny decade-old Cal­i­for­nia start­up known as Cardero Ther­a­peu­tics an­nounced a new name — Epir­i­um Bio — a new di­rec­tion and $85 mil­lion in cash from blue-chip VCs such as ARCH and Ver­tex Ven­tures.

The com­pa­ny’s founders had a bold claim that a com­mon type of an­ti-ox­i­dant found in choco­late and grapes ac­tu­al­ly worked by in­flu­enc­ing a pre­vi­ous­ly undis­cov­ered hu­man hor­mone, the first of its kind dis­cov­ered in decades. Ac­ti­vat­ing that hor­mone, they claimed, could re­store mi­to­chon­dria, the pow­er­house of the cell, and re­store mus­cle tis­sue. It was ef­fec­tive­ly ex­er­cise-in-a-pill.

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