Alex Zhavoronkov (Insilico)

'Longevi­ty as a ser­vice': In­sil­i­co spins off AI biotech that trains deep learn­ing on an­ti-ag­ing treat­ments

Since its in­cep­tion in 2014, In­sil­i­co has racked up deal af­ter deal on the promise that ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence can has­ten drug de­vel­op­ment, tout­ing their work on dis­cov­er­ing small mol­e­cules. The biotech’s founder, Alex Zha­voronkov, has pub­lished sev­er­al sci­en­tif­ic pa­pers quan­ti­fy­ing just how im­pact­ful this tech­nol­o­gy can be.

On Tues­day, Zha­voronkov ex­tend­ed his AI ex­per­tise in­to the field of an­ti-ag­ing.

In­sil­i­co is spin­ning off a new biotech, Deep Longevi­ty, fo­cus­ing on de­vel­op­ing and fine-tun­ing such AI tech­niques where Zha­voronkov will al­so serve as founder and CEO. Cou­pled with the launch, Deep Longevi­ty an­nounced the com­ple­tion of Se­ries A fund­ing and a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Hu­man Longevi­ty, which owns the world’s largest data­base of se­quenced genomes. Fi­nan­cial terms of the deal were not dis­closed, but Deep Longevi­ty said in a press re­lease it falls some­where in the “few mil­lion” dol­lar range.

To­geth­er, the biotechs will de­ploy an ex­ten­sive range of AI-pow­ered an­ti-ag­ing ser­vices.

“Age is a uni­ver­sal fea­ture that every liv­ing be­ing has, un­like dis­eases, so you can train from re­al­ly mas­sive da­ta to pre­dict age,” Zha­voronkov told End­points News. “In the past we have ex­per­i­ment­ed with oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion mod­els, but I think that Hu­man Longevi­ty is by far the most cred­i­ble ex­pert in pre­ven­ta­tive care.”

The an­ti-ag­ing in­dus­try is rel­a­tive­ly new. One promi­nent area re­volves around uti­liz­ing “bi­o­log­i­cal clocks” to de­ter­mine one’s bi­o­log­i­cal age rel­a­tive to their ac­tu­al age to flag po­ten­tial com­pli­ca­tions or rec­om­mend pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ments. Most bi­o­log­i­cal clocks that cur­rent­ly ex­ist mea­sure bi­o­log­i­cal age with DNA methy­la­tion, but Zha­voronkov said such meth­ods have not proven very ac­cu­rate.

In­stead, Deep Longevi­ty will feed sev­er­al dif­fer­ent met­rics in­to its AI sys­tem to pro­duce a com­pre­hen­sive ag­ing re­port. The da­ta can come from blood tests, mi­cro­bio­m­ic in­fo and even voice and imag­ing tests. Fi­nal re­ports, which Deep Longevi­ty has dubbed Age­Met­ric, will pro­duce a sin­gle num­ber that rep­re­sents an in­di­vid­ual’s true bi­o­log­i­cal age and break down their age by da­ta cat­e­go­ry.

“Methy­la­tion da­ta is not very in­ter­pretable, so it’s very dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand what’s re­al­ly go­ing on, why a per­son is ag­ing and what to do about it, what to change to, quote-un­quote ‘get younger,’” Zha­voronkov said. “[Ours] is a deep neur­al net­work where you have 41 pa­ra­me­ters of in­put and just one fea­ture on out­put — your age — and we re­al­ized that this sys­tem is pret­ty pre­dic­tive.”

De­spite heavy ear­ly in­vest­ment in biotechs like Uni­ty and Cal­i­co, an­ti-ag­ing treat­ments have strug­gled to get off the ground. No­var­tis spin­out resTOR­bio reg­is­tered a high-pro­file flop last No­vem­ber af­ter the Phase III study for its lead clin­i­cal pro­gram showed its can­di­date — a TORC1 in­hibitor — per­formed slight­ly worse than a place­bo in pre­vent­ing clin­i­cal­ly symp­to­matic res­pi­ra­to­ry ill­ness in pa­tients 65 and old­er.

But Deep Longevi­ty isn’t fo­cus­ing on drug dis­cov­ery or de­vel­op­ment. By us­ing its AI to cre­ate these re­ports, Zha­voronkov said he hopes the biotech can pro­vide an es­sen­tial ser­vice to its cus­tomer base and the “ul­tra-high-end” hos­pi­tals that treat them.

“The idea is to pro­vide what we call longevi­ty as a ser­vice, how like soft­ware is a ser­vice,” Zha­voronkov said. “You send the da­ta in, you get the num­ber back, and you al­so get this num­ber in­ter­pret­ed. We al­so tell you what has con­tributed to you look­ing old­er or younger and pos­si­ble be­hav­ioral mod­i­fi­ca­tions that the doc­tor could pre­scribe to be able to re­verse this dif­fer­ence.”

As the an­ti-ag­ing in­dus­try grows, so will its cred­i­bil­i­ty, Zha­voronkov said. The biotech chief added that he hopes the new spin-off will be­come the stan­dard-bear­er of the field’s mea­sure­ment tools.

“Sev­en years ago, most com­pa­nies that are nowa­days not on­ly me­dia dar­lings, but now are ac­tu­al­ly run by very cred­i­ble sci­en­tists and drug de­vel­op­ers, did not ex­ist,” Zha­voronkov said. “We’re wit­ness­ing the birth of an en­tire in­dus­try. The rea­son Deep Longevi­ty is cool is be­cause we can ser­vice this in­dus­try. You can­not in­ter­vene if you can­not mea­sure.”

Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Alex­ion puts €65M for­ward to strength­en its po­si­tion on the Emer­ald Isle

Ireland has been on a roll in 2022, with several large pharma companies announcing multimillion-euro projects. Now AstraZeneca’s rare disease outfit Alexion is looking to get in on the action.

Alexion on Friday announced a €65 million ($68.8 million) investment in new and enhanced capabilities across two sites in the country, including at College Park in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown and the Monksland Industrial Park in the central Irish town of Athlone, according to the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland.

Deborah Dunsire, Lundbeck CEO

Af­ter a 5-year re­peat PhI­II so­journ, Lund­beck and Ot­su­ka say they're fi­nal­ly ready to pur­sue OK to use Rex­ul­ti against Alzheimer's ag­i­ta­tion

Five years after Lundbeck and their longtime collaborators at Otsuka turned up a mixed set of Phase III data for Rexulti as a treatment for Alzheimer’s dementia-related agitation, they’ve come through with a new pivotal trial success they believe will finally put them on the road to an approval at the FDA. And if they’re right, some analysts believe they’re a short step away from adding more than $500 million in annual sales for the drug, already approved in depression and schizophrenia.

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Members of the G7 from left to right: Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council President Charles Michel (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Biden and G7 na­tions of­fer funds for vac­cine and med­ical prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing project in Sene­gal

Amidst recently broader vaccine manufacturing initiatives from the EU and European companies, the G7 summit in the mountains of Bavaria has brought about some positive news for closing vaccine and medical product manufacturing gaps around the globe.

According to a statement from the White House, the G7 leaders have formally launched the partnership for global infrastructure, PGII. The effort will aim to mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars to deliver infrastructure projects in several sectors including the medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing space.

Chris Anzalone, Arrowhead CEO

Take­da, Ar­row­head spot­light da­ta from small tri­al show­ing RNAi works in a rare liv­er con­di­tion

Almost two years after Takeda wagered $300 million cash to partner with Arrowhead on an RNAi therapy for a rare disease, the companies are spelling out Phase II data that they believe put them one step closer to their big dreams.

In a small, open label study involving only 16 patients who had liver disease associated with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), Arrowhead’s candidate — fazirsiran, previously ARO-AAT — spurred substantial reductions in accumulated mutant AAT protein in the liver, a hallmark of the condition. Investigators also tracked improvements in symptoms, with seven out of 12 who received the high, 200 mg dose seeing regression of liver fibrosis.

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State bat­tles over mifepri­s­tone ac­cess could tie the FDA to any post-Roe cross­roads

As more than a dozen states are now readying so-called “trigger” laws to kick into effect immediate abortion bans following the overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday, these laws, in the works for more than a decade in some states, will likely kick off even more legal battles as states seek to restrict the use of prescription drug-based abortions.

Since Friday’s SCOTUS opinion to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, reproductive rights lawyers at Planned Parenthood and other organizations have already challenged these trigger laws in Utah and Louisiana. According to the Guttmacher Institute, other states with trigger laws that could take effect include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

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A Mer­ck part­ner is sucked in­to the fi­nan­cial quag­mire as key lender calls in a note

Another biotech standing on shaky financial legs has fallen victim to the bears.

Merck partner 4D Pharma has reported that a key lender, Oxford Finance, shoved the UK company into administration after calling in a $14 million loan they couldn’t immediately make good on. Trading in their stock was halted with a market cap that had fallen to a mere £30 million.

“Despite the very difficult prevailing market conditions,” 4D reported on Friday, the biotech had been making progress on finding some new financing and turned to Oxford with an alternative late on Thursday and then again Friday morning.

Fed­er­al judge de­nies Bris­tol My­er­s' at­tempt to avoid Cel­gene share­hold­er law­suit

Some Celgene shareholders aren’t happy with how Bristol Myers Squibb’s takeover went down.

On Friday, a New York federal judge ruled that they have a case against the pharma giant, denying a request to dismiss allegations that it purposely slow-rolled Breyanzi’s approval to avoid paying out $6.4 billion in contingent value rights (CVR).

When Bristol Myers put down $74 billion to scoop up Celgene back in 2019, liso-cel — the CAR-T lymphoma treatment now marketed as Breyanzi — was supposedly one of the centerpieces of the deal. After going back and forth on negotiations for about six months, BMS put $6.4 billion into a CVR agreement that required an FDA approval for Zeposia, Breyanzi and Abecma, each by an established date.

David Hung, Nuvation Bio president and CEO (Nuvation Bio)

FDA places par­tial clin­i­cal hold on David Hung biotech af­ter cer­tain can­cer pa­tients ex­pe­ri­ence eye in­flam­ma­tion

Two and a half years after setting out on another foray into oncology R&D, a biotech headed by David Hung — of Medivation fame — has run into its first setback.

San Francisco-based Nuvation Bio announced early Monday the FDA placed a partial clinical hold on a Phase I dose-escalation study of NUV-422, its CDK inhibitor program for certain types of solid tumors. The trial began enrolling patients in December 2020, and, according to Nuvation, researchers were in the middle of exploring dose escalation and defining the maximum dose tolerable in patients.