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

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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FDA de­lays de­ci­sion on No­var­tis’ po­ten­tial block­buster MS drug, wip­ing away pri­or­i­ty re­view

So much for a speedy review.

In February, Novartis announced that an application for their much-touted multiple sclerosis drug ofatumumab had been accepted and, with the drug company cashing in on one of their priority review vouchers, the agency was due for a decision by June.

But with June less than 48 hours old, Novartis announced the agency has extended their review, pushing back the timeline for approval or rejection to September. The Swiss pharma filed the application in December, meaning their new schedule will be nearly in line with the standard 10-month window period had they not used the priority voucher.

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Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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David Meline, incoming Moderna CFO

Am­gen vet David Meline finds a new CFO roost at Mod­er­na, tak­ing a ride on the Covid-19 tiger as de­part­ing ex­ec cash­es out with $12M

We found out a few weeks ago that Moderna CFO Lorence Kim isn’t waiting around to see how the biotech wunderkind makes out in its frantic race to field a messenger RNA vaccine that can quell Covid-19. And now we know who’s stepping on board to take his place in the latest move in the executive suite.

David Meline, who forged his rep during a 6-year run at Amgen, slipped out the exit right after his Q2 “retirement” party in California — presumably virtual — and started the next chapter of his career at a biotech company betting big on revolutionizing the vaccine R&D space.

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GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.

Joseph Kim, Inovio CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

Caught in a stand­off with its con­tract man­u­fac­tur­er over Covid-19 vac­cine, In­ovio files suit in an at­tempt to break free while ri­vals race ahead

Inovio was one of the first vaccine developers to snag attention for a jab that their execs said promised to end the Covid-19 pandemic. Using their own unique DNA tech, CEO Joseph Kim said it took just 3 hours to work it out.

But while rivals are racing to the finish line with ambitious plans to make vast quantities of their vaccines with billions of dollars of deals, Inovio is still stuck at the starting line on manufacturing.

Covid-19 roundup: Mod­er­na read­ies to en­ter PhI­II in Ju­ly, As­traZeneca not far be­hind; EU ready to ne­go­ti­ate vac­cine ac­cess with $2.7B fund

Moderna may soon add another first to the Covid-19 vaccine race.

In March, the mRNA biotech was the first company to put a Covid-19 vaccine into humans. Next month, they may become the first company to put their vaccine into the large, late-stage trials that are needed to prove whether the vaccine is effective.

In an interview with JAMA editor Howard Bauchner, NIAID chief Anthony Fauci said that a 30,000-person, Phase III trial for Moderna’s vaccine could start in July. The news comes a week after Moderna began a Phase II study that will enroll several hundred people.

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