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

A New Fron­tier: The In­ner Ear

What happens when a successful biotech venture capitalist is unexpectedly diagnosed with a chronic, life-disrupting vertigo disorder? Innovation in neurotology.

That venture capitalist was Jay Lichter, Ph.D., and after learning there was no FDA-approved drug treatment for his condition, Ménière’s disease, he decided to create a company to bring drug development to neurotology. Otonomy was founded in 2008 and is dedicated to finding new drug treatments for the hugely underserved community living with balance and hearing disorders. Helping patients like Jay has been the driving force behind Otonomy, a company heading into a transformative 2020 with three clinical trial readouts: Phase 3 in Ménière’s disease, Phase 2 in tinnitus, and Phase 1/2 in hearing loss. These catalysts, together with others in the field, highlight the emerging opportunity in neurotology.
Otonomy is leading the way in neurotology
Neurotology, or the treatment of inner ear neurological disorders, is a large and untapped market for drug developers: one in eight individuals in the U.S. have moderate-to-severe hearing loss, tinnitus or vertigo disorders such as Ménière’s disease.1 With no FDA-approved drug treatments available for these conditions, the burden on patients—including social anxiety, lower quality of life, reduced work productivity, and higher rates of depression—can be significant.2, 3, 4

Joe Jimenez, Getty

Ex-No­var­tis CEO Joe Jimenez is tak­ing an­oth­er crack at open­ing a new chap­ter in his ca­reer — and that in­cludes a new board seat and a $250M start­up

Joe Jimenez is back.

The ex-CEO of Novartis has taken a board seat on Century Therapeutics, the Versant and Bayer-backed startup focused on coming up with a brand new twist on cell therapies for cancer — a field where Jimenez made his mark backing the first personalized CAR-T approved for use.

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Credit: Shutterstock

Can we make the an­tibi­ot­ic mar­ket great again?

The standard for-profit model in drug development is straightforward. Spend millions, even billions, to develop a medicine from scratch. The return on investment (and ideally a tidy profit) comes via volume and/or price, depending on the disease. But the string of big pharma exits and slew of biotech bankruptcies indicate that the model is sorely flawed when it comes to antibiotics.

The industry players contributing to the arsenal of antimicrobials are fast dwindling, and the pipeline for new antibiotics is embarrassingly sparse, the WHO has warned. Drugmakers are enticed by greener pastures, compared to the long, arduous and expensive path to antibiotic approval that offers little financial gain as treatments are typically priced cheaply, and often lose potency over time as microbes grow resistant to them.

Top Har­vard chemist caught up in FBI’s 'T­hou­sand Tal­ents' drag­net, ac­cused of ly­ing about Chi­nese con­nec­tions, pay

The FBI’s probe into the alleged theft of R&D secrets by Chinese authorities has drawn Harvard’s top chemist into its net.

The agency accused Charles M. Lieber, who chairs the university’s chemistry and chemical biology department, with lying about his involvement in China’s Thousand Talents campaign, which was established as a way of drawing in innovators from around the world. And the scientist, 60, was charged with making false statements about his ties to China.

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Eye­ing a trio of tri­al ini­ti­a­tions, Jim Wilson's gene ther­a­py start­up woos Bruce Gold­smith from Deer­field as CEO

Passage Bio — Jim Wilson’s self-described “legacy company” — has wooed a seasoned biotech executive to steer the clinical entry of its first three gene therapy programs.

Bruce Goldsmith jumps to the helm of Passage after a brief CEO stint at Civetta, a cancer-focused startup he helped launch while a venture partner at Deerfield. He takes over from OrbiMed partner and interim chief Stephen Squinto, who will now lead the R&D team.

The FTC and New York state ac­cuse Mar­tin Shkre­li of run­ning a drug mo­nop­oly. They plan to squash it — and per­ma­nent­ly ex­ile him

Pharma bro Martin Shkreli was jailed, publicly pilloried and forced to confront some lawmakers in Washington riled by his move to take an old generic and move the price from $17.50 per pill to $750. But through 4 years of controversy and public revulsion, his company never backed away from the price — left uncontrolled by a laissez faire federal policy on a drug’s cost.

Now the FTC and the state of New York plan to pry his fingers off the drug once and for all and open it up to some cheap competition. And their lawsuit is asking that Shkreli — with several years left on his prison sentence — be banned permanently from the pharma industry.

UP­DAT­ED: Ac­celeron res­ur­rects block­buster hopes for so­tater­cept with pos­i­tive PhII — and shares rock­et up

Acceleron $XLRN says that its first major trial readout of 2020 is a success.

In a Phase II study of 106 patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), Acceleron’s experimental drug sotatercept hit its primary endpoint: a significant reduction in pulmonary vascular resistance. The drug also met three different secondary endpoints, including the 6-minute walking test.

“We’re thrilled to report such positive topline results from the PULSAR trial,” Acceleron CEO Habib Dable said in a statement. The company said in a conference call they plan on discussing a Phase III trial design with regulators.

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Short at­tack­er Sahm Ad­ran­gi draws crosshairs over a fa­vorite of Sanofi’s new CEO — with PhII da­ta loom­ing

Sahm Adrang Kerrisdale

Kerrisdale chief Sahm Adrangi took a lengthy break from his series of biotech short attacks after his chief analyst in the field pulled up stakes and went solo. But he’s making a return to drug development this morning, drawing crosshairs over a company that’s one of new Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson’s favorite collaborators.

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Amber Saltzman (Ohana)

Flag­ship's first ven­ture of 2020 is out, and it's all about sperm

A couple years ago, Amber Salzman got a call as she was returning East full-time after a two-year stint running a gene therapy company in California.

It was from someone at Flagship Pioneering, the deep-pocketed biotech venture firm. They had a new company with a new way of thinking about sperm. It had been incubating for over a year, and now they wanted her to run it.

“It exactly fit,” Salzman told Endpoints News. “I just thought I had to do something.”