Jim Mellon's Juvenescence takes a chance on tiny upstart run by former Pfizer exec
When Margaret Jackson was doing some consulting work for Juvenescence CEO Greg Bailey last year, she did not anticipate the anti-aging biotech venture would eventually invest in her newly incorporated preclinical metabolic disease biotech BYOMass.
The company, run by Jackson who is the only full-time employee, has been in stealth mode — it is so early stage, it doesn’t even have a website yet.
Juvenescence on Wednesday said it had pledged up to $6.5 million in equity financing in BYOMass and will collaborate with the company to develop therapeutics designed to modulate metabolism associated with aging and age-related chronic illnesses.
Within the field of metabolic diseases, drugmakers generally tend to target tissues like the liver, the muscle, the fat and the pancreas, Jackson said in an interview with Endpoints News.
“My group is going to be focusing on the brain and how it controls metabolism, more specifically how the hypothalamus and the brain stem perform…to help maintain food intake, body weight and blood pressure.”
Juvenescence’s capital injection will help take the three programs she is currently working on closer to the clinical candidate nomination stage, she said. “I expect to do animal testing by the end of this year.”
For now, BYOMass is a one woman show, assisted by a large cohort of experienced consultants. The goal is to build a team as the programs advance.
Meanwhile, Jackson has joined the Juvenescence team as VP, head of preclinical R&D. She has led multiple teams and drug discovery efforts in her 20-year career — the bulk of which was spent at Pfizer.
Two months ago, Juvenescence said it had raised $46 million to invest in the science of anti-aging, as part of a promised $100 million raise. The 15-member team works with researchers far and wide, investing in their collaborators and setting up JVs with AI groups, such as Alex Zhavoronkov’s AI shop at Insilico Medicine — while gaining controlling interests in firms including AgeX and LyGenesis. Last month, Juvenescence debuted an anti-aging joint venture with the Buck Institute dedicated to inducing ketosis.