Here’s why 23-year-old Lau­ra Dem­ing is bet­ting $22M on an­ti-ag­ing R&D

An MIT stu­dent at 14, a drop-out at 16 and an en­tre­pre­neur run­ning her own small biotech ven­ture fund at 17, Lau­ra Dem­ing is not your typ­i­cal ven­ture ex­ec. Now, at 23, she’s raised a $22 mil­lion fund — her sec­ond for the Longevi­ty Fund — that will look to in­vest in more com­pa­nies like Uni­ty Biotech­nol­o­gy which are look­ing to ad­vance new an­ti-ag­ing drugs.

Lau­ra Dem­ing

An­ti-ag­ing is just now com­ing in­to vogue, as Uni­ty Biotech­nol­o­gy’s re­cent $151 mil­lion B round in­di­cates. But Dem­ing got start­ed long be­fore an­ti-ag­ing gained some trac­tion with tra­di­tion­al VCs. Now, as the field gains steam, she plans on build­ing on her bets.

TechCrunch did a great in­ter­view with Dem­ing, pro­vid­ing her back­ground and what she’s plan­ning on do­ing. It’s well worth the read for any­one in biotech.

Here’s one ex­cerpt from the in­ter­view on why you should care about this new breed of biotech.

In part be­cause not long ago, if you talked with most VCs about ag­ing, they didn’t think there was any­thing there. I think ag­ing is such a young sci­ence, they hadn’t heard about it. Mean­while, I care a lot about it, and though we don’t know if it’ll work or not, it’s not un­like [biotech com­pa­nies try­ing to tack­le] can­cer in that way, and if you be­lieve in can­cer com­pa­nies, you should al­so care about ag­ing com­pa­nies.

I’ve been see­ing a lot of fresh en­er­gy fo­cus­ing on an­ti-ag­ing re­search, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of Ju­ve­nes­cence and new al­liances be­tween In­Sil­i­co, an an­ti-ag­ing spe­cial­ist in AI, and GSK. It’s still ear­ly days, but you can see the field steadi­ly gain­ing trac­tion among in­vestors, de­vel­op­ers and sci­en­tists.

The Advance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

Mer­ck buys a Covid-19 vac­cine play­er, adding a new fo­cus on pan­dem­ic readi­ness

Merck is jumping directly into the frenzied race to develop a new vaccine to fight against Covid-19, buying a Vienna-based partner and adding a new R&D focus aimed at pandemic preparedness.

The pharma giant announced this morning that it is snapping up the Vienna-based biotech for an undisclosed sum, picking up a vaccine that’s been based on discovery work at the Institute Pasteur. And Merck is getting much more, adding a pipeline that includes a late-stage jab for Chikungunya.

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Af­ter de­cou­pling from Re­gen­eron, Sanofi says it’s time to sell the $13B stake picked up in the mar­riage

With Regeneron shares going for a peak price — after doubling from last fall — Sanofi is putting a $13 billion stake in their longtime partner on the auction block. And Regeneron is taking $5 billion of that action for themselves.

Sanofi — which has been decoupling from Regeneron for more than a year now — bought in big in early 2013, back when Regeneron’s stock was going for around $165 a share. Small investors flocked to the deal, buzzing about an imminent takeover. The buyout chatter wound down long ago.

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Piv­otal myas­the­nia gravis da­ta from ar­genx au­gur well for FcRn in­hibitors in de­vel­op­ment

Leading the pack of biotechs vying for a piece of the generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG) market with an FcRn inhibitor, argenx on Tuesday unveiled keenly anticipated positive late-stage data on its lead asset, bringing it one step closer to regulatory approval.

Despite steroids, immunosuppressants, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, and Alexion’s Soliris, patients with the rare, chronic neuromuscular disorder (more than 100,000 in the United States and Europe) don’t necessarily benefit from these existing options, leaving room for the crop of FcRn inhibitors in development.

Covid-19 roundup: Janet Wood­cock steps aside — for now — as FDA drug czar; WHO hits the brakes on hy­droxy study af­ter lat­est safe­ty alarm

The biopharma industry will soon get a look at what the FDA will look like once CDER’s powerful chief Janet Woodcock retires from her post.

Long considered one of the most influential regulators in the agency, if not its single most powerful official when it counts, Woodcock is being detached to devote herself full-time to the White House’s special project to fast-forward new drugs and vaccines for the pandemic. The move comes a week after some quick reshuffling as Woodcock and CBER chief Peter Marks joined Operation Warp Speed. Initially they opted to recuse themselves from any FDA decisions on pandemic treatments and vaccines, after consumer advocates criticized the move as a clear conflict of interest in how the agency exercises oversight on new approvals.

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Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (AP Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Hit with new con­flict ac­cu­sa­tions, Janet Wood­cock steps out of the agen­cy's Covid-19 chain of com­mand

Two weeks ago, FDA drug chieftain Janet Woodcock was assuring a top Wall Street analyst that any vaccine approved for combating Covid-19 would have to meet high agency standards on safety and efficacy before it’s approved. But over the weekend, after she and Peter Marks took top positions with the public-private operation meant to speed a new vaccine to lightning-fast approvals — they both recused themselves from the review process after an advocacy group argued their roles close to the White House could pose a conflict of interest.

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Eric Edwards, Phlow president and CEO (PR Newswire)

BAR­DA of­fers a tiny start­up up to $812M to cre­ate a US-based drug man­u­fac­tur­er — and the CEO comes with a price goug­ing con­tro­ver­sy on his ré­sumé

BARDA has tapped a largely unknown startup to ramp up production of a list of drugs that may be at risk of running short in the US. And the deal, which comes with up to $812 million in federal funds, was inked by a CEO who found himself in the middle of an ugly price gouging controversy a few years ago.

The feds’ new partner — called Phlow — won a 4-year “base” contract of $354 million, with another $458 million that’s on the table in potential options to sustain the outfit. That would make it one of the largest awards in BARDA’s history.

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Re­searchers de­fine ex­act­ly what they saw in the first pos­i­tive remde­sivir study for Covid-19. But what's that worth to Gilead?

Remdesivir can work in fighting Covid-19, particularly for patients with less severe cases, but this is just a first step in the journey to finding combos that can do the job much better.

That’s the bottom line from Gilead’s randomized study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Analysts were quick to draw conclusions about how the big biotech could turn this into a profitable advantage — with widespread expectation of considerable pricing restraint on Gilead’s part. Anyone looking for a new mountain of cash to count as the world grapples with the pandemic is likely to come away disappointed.

Jean-Pierre Sommadossi, Atea Pharmaceuticals CEO (Atea)

Phar­mas­set co-founder jumps in­to Covid-19 fight, with a new com­pa­ny and $215 mil­lion to get there

For 7 years, Atea Pharmaceuticals hummed along, another biotech in a city full of them, filing patents, quietly picking up a few small funding rounds for molecules targeting hepatitis, Dengue and RSV — some of the few infectious diseases that could still generate investor interest.

Then Covid-19 struck and now they’ve raised $215 million in a single round from over a dozen investors, including Bain Capital and RA Capital. They’ll use it to launch a cross-country Phase II trial testing their lead drug, AT-527, as the latest new antiviral to go up against the coronavirus.

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