Pe­ter Dia­man­dis' right hand man Sergey Young wants to re­verse ag­ing via his $100M Longevi­ty Vi­sion Fund

In­spired by British bil­lion­aire Jim Mel­lon, chair­man of an­ti-ag­ing up­start biotech ven­ture Ju­ve­nes­cence, Sergey Young un­veiled a $100 mil­lion fund on Mon­day to cat­alyze the de­vel­op­ment of a com­pre­hen­sive so­lu­tion to coun­ter­act the dam­ag­ing con­se­quences of ag­ing.

“I’ve nev­er looked like my age…and with my name, I think it was pre­de­ter­mined that I was go­ing to work in the space (of ag­ing),” Young told End­points News. The 47-year-old con­sid­ers him­self a prod­uct of Pe­ter Dia­man­dis — the man be­hind the non-prof­it XPRIZE and ven­ture cap­i­tal fund BOLD Cap­i­tal Part­ners — and is in charge of all things longevi­ty at both or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Jim Mel­lon

Like Mel­lon, who penned Ju­ve­nes­cence: In­vest­ing in the Age of Longevi­ty pri­or to the launch of the com­pa­ny Ju­ve­nes­cence, Young is in the em­bry­on­ic stage of writ­ing his own book de­signed to de­code the sci­ence of ag­ing for the mass­es. Mean­while, his $100 mil­lion Longevi­ty Vi­sion Fund will back or­ga­ni­za­tions who are work­ing on tech­nol­o­gy to re­verse the ag­ing process and pro­long healthy hu­man life.

“Adding 20 to 30 healthy years on a per­son’s life is like­ly to be the largest mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ty on earth. The con­ver­gence of Genome Se­quenc­ing, AI & Cel­lu­lar Med­i­cine will en­able break­throughs that will make 100 years old the new 60. I’m proud through our BOLD Cap­i­tal part­ner­ship to sup­port Sergey Young and the Longevi­ty Vi­sion Fund,” Pe­ter Dia­man­dis said in a state­ment.

Young did not dis­close the deals his fund is cur­rent­ly ex­plor­ing but laid out the ar­eas he is in­ter­est­ed in pur­su­ing.

Pe­ter Dia­man­dis

“We are cur­rent­ly work­ing on 6 deals…and are look­ing at all the usu­al sus­pects in terms of themes” he said. These ar­eas in­clude ear­ly de­tec­tion of se­ri­ous dis­eases us­ing ul­tra­sound tech­nol­o­gy; ear­ly di­ag­nos­tics for heart, can­cer and neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases; stem-cell and mi­cro­bio­me-based ther­a­peu­tics; and big da­ta as well as AI-based ap­pli­ca­tions.

Un­sur­pris­ing­ly, Young is in di­a­logue with Alex Zha­voronkov’s AI shop at In­sil­i­co Med­i­cine. Zha­voronkov has deep con­nec­tions in the R&D space — last year he raised funds at the be­hest of Shang­hai high-fly­er WuXi AppTec, Sin­ga­pore’s Temasek, Pe­ter Dia­man­dis and Ju­ve­nes­cence.

“We do plan to par­tic­i­pate in the next round of fund­ing to be­come a share­hold­er of In­sil­i­co,” Young said. It is a mu­tu­al ap­pre­ci­a­tion so­ci­ety here at the Longevi­ty Lead­ers Con­gress in Lon­don, where Zha­voronkov is heard in­tro­duc­ing Young as a vi­sion­ary fund man­ag­er to a con­fer­ence at­tendee. Young, Zha­voronkov, Mel­lon and a host of oth­ers high-pro­file C-suite reg­u­lars in­volved in ag­ing R&D have flocked to a ho­tel near the renowned St Paul’s Cathe­dral to dis­cuss re­cent de­vel­op­ments in an­ti-ag­ing. In the first keynote pan­el of the day, vice pres­i­dent of Ju­ve­nes­cence-backed AgeX Aubrey de Grey am­bi­tious­ly claims that that longevi­ty space will even­tu­al­ly “dwarf the dot­com boom.”

Alex Zha­voronkov

But more fund­ing is nec­es­sary, Zha­voronkov told End­points News at the con­fer­ence. Oth­er than Google’s an­ti-ag­ing biotech Cal­i­co that has seen a large in­flux of funds, the field of an­ti-ag­ing is ripe for in­vest­ment, he said.

For long-time in­vestor and ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Young, who has in­sight in­to the ag­ing R&D ef­fort with­in the US and to a less­er ex­tent in the UK, Chi­na and In­dia’s siz­able pop­u­la­tions pose com­pelling prospects for deals for his fund.

“In the next decade, ad­vance­ments will al­low us to be a lot more pre­dic­tive and pre­ven­ta­tive in the most dam­ag­ing dis­eases,” he said. “I’m think­ing AI-en­abled med­i­cine will em­pow­er doc­tors…tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances to im­prove sleep­ing and med­i­ta­tion will emerge — and these are an es­sen­tial part of a healthy, long life, along with a plant-based di­et.”


Im­age: Sergey Young. LONGEVI­TY VI­SION FUND

The top 10 block­buster drugs in the late-stage pipeline — Eval­u­ate adds 6 new ther­a­pies to heavy-hit­ter list

Vertex comes in for a substantial amount of criticism for its no-holds-barred tactical approach toward wresting the price it wants for its commercial drugs in Europe. But the flip side of that coin is a highly admired R&D and commercial operation that regularly wins kudos from analysts for their ability to engineer greater cash flow from the breakthrough drugs they create.

Both aspects needed for success in this business are on display in the program backing Vertex’s triple for cystic fibrosis. VX-659/VX-445 + Tezacaftor + Ivacaftor — it’s been whittled down to 445 now — was singled out by Evaluate Pharma as the late-stage therapy most likely to win the crown for drug sales in 5 years, with a projected peak revenue forecast of $4.3 billion.

The latest annual list, which you can see here in their latest world preview, includes a roster of some of the most closely watched development programs in biopharma. And Evaluate has added 6 must-watch experimental drugs to the top 10 as drugs fail or go on to a first approval. With apologies to the list maker, I revamped this to rank the top 10 by projected 2024 sales, instead of Evaluate's net present value rankings.

It's how we roll at Endpoints News.

Here is a quick summary of the rest of the top 10:

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How small- to mid-sized biotechs can adopt pa­tient cen­tric­i­ty in their on­col­o­gy tri­als

By Lucy Clos­sick Thom­son, Se­nior Di­rec­tor of On­col­o­gy Pro­ject Man­age­ment, Icon

Clin­i­cal tri­als in on­col­o­gy can be cost­ly and chal­leng­ing to man­age. One fac­tor that could re­duce costs and re­duce bar­ri­ers is har­ness­ing the pa­tient voice in tri­al de­sign to help ac­cel­er­ate pa­tient en­roll­ment. Now is the time to adopt pa­tient-cen­tric strate­gies that not on­ly fo­cus on pa­tient needs, but al­so can main­tain cost ef­fi­cien­cy.

John Reed at JPM 2019. Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News

Sanofi's John Reed con­tin­ues to re­or­ga­nize R&D, cut­ting 466 jobs while boost­ing can­cer, gene ther­a­py re­search

The R&D reorganization inside Sanofi is continuing, more than a year after the pharma giant brought in John Reed to head the research arm of the Paris-based company.
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Neil Woodford. Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Wood­ford braces po­lit­i­cal storm as UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors scru­ti­nize fund sus­pen­sion

The shock of Neil Wood­ford’s de­ci­sion to block with­drawals for his flag­ship fund is still rip­pling through the rest of his port­fo­lio — and be­yond. Un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure, UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors are now tak­ing a hard look while in­vestors con­tin­ue to flee.

In a re­sponse let­ter to an MP, the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­i­ty re­vealed that it’s opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the sus­pen­sion fol­low­ing months of en­gage­ment with Link Fund So­lu­tions, which tech­ni­cal­ly del­e­gat­ed Wood­ford’s firm to man­age its funds.

UP­DAT­ED: Chica­go biotech ar­gues blue­bird, Third Rock 'killed' its ri­val, pi­o­neer­ing tha­lassemia gene ther­a­py in law­suit

Blue­bird bio $BLUE chief Nick Leschly court­ed con­tro­ver­sy last week when he re­vealed the com­pa­ny’s be­ta tha­lassemia treat­ment will car­ry a jaw-drop­ping $1.8 mil­lion price tag over a 5-year pe­ri­od in Eu­rope — mak­ing it the plan­et’s sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py be­hind No­var­tis’ $NVS fresh­ly ap­proved spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy ther­a­py, Zol­gens­ma, at $2.1 mil­lion. A Chica­go biotech, mean­while, has been fum­ing at the side­lines. In a law­suit filed ear­li­er this month, Er­rant Gene Ther­a­peu­tics al­leged that blue­bird and ven­ture cap­i­tal group Third Rock un­law­ful­ly prised a vi­ral vec­tor, de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with the Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Cen­ter (MSK), from its grasp, and thwart­ed the de­vel­op­ment of its sem­i­nal gene ther­a­py.

Dave Barrett, Brian Chee, Amir Nashat, Amy Schulman. Polaris

Bob Langer's first port of call — Po­laris Part­ners — maps $400M for ninth fund

Health and tech ven­ture group Po­laris Part­ners, which counts Alec­tor, Al­ny­lam and Ed­i­tas Med­i­cine as part of its port­fo­lio, is set­ting up its ninth fund, rough­ly two years af­ter it closed Po­laris VI­II with $435 mil­lion in the bank, sur­pass­ing its tar­get by $35 mil­lion.

The Boston-based firm, in an SEC fil­ing, said it in­tends to raise $400 mil­lion for the fund. Po­laris — which rou­tine­ly backs com­pa­nies mold­ed out of the work done in the lab of pro­lif­ic sci­en­tist Bob Langer of MIT  — typ­i­cal­ly in­vests ear­ly, and sticks around till com­pa­nies are in the green. Like its peers at Flag­ship and Third Rock, Po­laris is all about cham­pi­oning the lo­cal biotech scene with a steady flow of start­up cash.

John Chiminski, Catalent CEO - File Photo

'It's a growth play': Catal­ent ac­quires Bris­tol-My­er­s' Eu­ro­pean launch pad, ex­pand­ing glob­al CD­MO ops

Catalent is staying on the growth track.

Just two months after committing $1.2 billion to pick up Paragon and take a deep dive into the sizzling hot gene therapy manufacturing sector, the CDMO is bouncing right back with a deal to buy out Bristol-Myers’ central launchpad for new therapies in Europe, acquiring a complex in Anagni, Italy, southwest of Rome, that will significantly expand its capacity on the continent.

There are no terms being offered, but this is no small deal. The Anagni campus employs some 700 staffers, and Catalent is planning to go right in — once the deal closes late this year — with a blueprint to build up the operations further as they expand on oral solid, biologics, and sterile product manufacturing and packaging.

This is an uncommon deal, Catalent CEO John Chiminski tells me. But it offers a shortcut for rapid growth that cuts years out of developing a green fields project. That’s time Catalent doesn’t have as the industry undergoes unprecedented expansion around the world.

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Partners Innovation Fund

David de Graaf now has his $28.5M launch round in place, build­ing a coen­zyme A plat­form in his lat­est start­up

Long­time biotech ex­ec David de Graaf has the cash he needs to set up the pre­clin­i­cal foun­da­tion for his coen­zyme A me­tab­o­lism com­pa­ny Comet. A few high-pro­file in­vestors joined the ven­ture syn­di­cate to sup­ply Comet with $28.5 mil­lion in launch mon­ey — enough to get it two years in­to the plat­form-build­ing game, with­in knock­ing dis­tance of the clin­ic.

Canaan jumped in along­side ex­ist­ing in­vestor Sofinno­va Part­ners to co-lead the round, with par­tic­i­pa­tion by ex­ist­ing in­vestor INKEF Cap­i­tal and new in­vestor BioIn­no­va­tion Cap­i­tal.

Arc­turus ex­pands col­lab­o­ra­tion, adding $30M cash; Ku­ra shoots for $100M raise

→  Rare dis­ease play­er Ul­tragenyx $RARE is ex­pand­ing its al­liance with Arc­turus $ARCT, pay­ing $24 mil­lion for eq­ui­ty and an­oth­er $6 mil­lion in an up­front as the two part­ners ex­pand their col­lab­o­ra­tion to in­clude up to 12 tar­gets. “This ex­pand­ed col­lab­o­ra­tion fur­ther so­lid­i­fies our mR­NA plat­form by adding ad­di­tion­al tar­gets and ex­pand­ing our abil­i­ty to po­ten­tial­ly treat more dis­eases,” said Emil Kakkis, the CEO at Ul­tragenyx. “We are pleased with the progress of our on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion. Our most ad­vanced mR­NA pro­gram, UX053 for the treat­ment of Glyco­gen Stor­age Dis­ease Type III, is ex­pect­ed to move in­to the clin­ic next year, and we look for­ward to fur­ther build­ing up­on the ini­tial suc­cess of this part­ner­ship.”