Trendy an­ti-ag­ing biotech Uni­ty adds $55M as it preps first hu­man tri­al to flush senes­cent cells

Uni­ty Biotech­nol­o­gy is fill­ing up its cash re­serves with an­oth­er ven­ture round be­fore it goes in­to its first an­ti-ag­ing hu­man stud­ies.

Kei­th Leonard

The Bay Area biotech bagged a $116 mil­lion celebri­ty round in 2016, with Jeff Be­zos and oth­ers join­ing the syn­di­cate for the Arch-seed­ed com­pa­ny, launched with Bob Nelsen’s help. That fol­lowed an $11 mil­lion seed round and a $35 mil­lion ex­ten­sion on the B. And now it’s set­tling for a rel­a­tive­ly mod­est $55 mil­lion for the C round, bring­ing the to­tal to 217 mil­lion so far for the pre­clin­i­cal com­pa­ny.

An­ti-ag­ing re­search has been grow­ing steadi­ly over the past few years, as re­searchers look in­to the ways ag­ing trig­gers the grad­ual ero­sion of health. Google launched the se­cre­tive Cal­i­co to go af­ter an­ti-ag­ing reme­dies al­most 5 years ago, hir­ing Arthur Levin­son to take the helm.

In their case Uni­ty is all about senes­cent cells, the cranky non-di­vid­ing cells that clut­ter an ag­ing body. The buildup in senes­cent cells is as­so­ci­at­ed with the re­lease of dozens of pro­teins that pro­mote in­flam­ma­tion, and re­mov­ing them — with­out al­ter­ing the bal­ance of cells the body needs — could pro­mote a longer, health­i­er life.

Or at least that’s Uni­ty’s the­o­ry.

Uni­ty’s first tri­al will fo­cus on senes­cent cells and os­teoarthri­tis.

Kei­th Leonard, chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Uni­ty, not­ed:

With this lat­est round of fi­nan­cial sup­port, UNI­TY is on track to file its first In­ves­ti­ga­tion­al New Drug ap­pli­ca­tion and ini­ti­ate a clin­i­cal study dur­ing the first half of this year for the po­ten­tial treat­ment of os­teoarthri­tis.

New Se­ries C in­vestors in­clude EcoR1 Cap­i­tal Fund, 6 Di­men­sions Cap­i­tal and Al­ti­tude Life Sci­ence Ven­tures. Al­so par­tic­i­pat­ing are ex­ist­ing in­vestors Fi­deli­ty Man­age­ment & Re­search Com­pa­ny, Bail­lie Gif­ford, Part­ner Fund Man­age­ment, Piv­otal Al­pha Lim­it­ed, In­vus Op­por­tu­ni­ties, ARCH Ven­ture Part­ners, Ven­rock, Founders Fund and the Longevi­ty Fund.

Secretary of health and human services Alex Azar speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House (Photo: AFP)

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Eli Lilly CSO Dan Skovronsky (file photo)

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Greg Friberg (File photo)

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Twenty out of 20 advanced NSCLC patients had a response after taking a combination of an in-house TKI dubbed lazertinib and amivantamab, a bispecific antibody targeting both EGFR and cMET engineered on partner Genmab’s platform, J&J reported at ESMO. All were treatment-naïve, and none has seen their cancer progress at a median follow-up of seven months.

Exelixis CEO Michael Morrissey (file photo)

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Donald Trump and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, before boarding Marine One (Getty Images)

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Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly CSO

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AstraZeneca has unveiled the final, mature overall survival data that cemented Lynparza’s first approval in prostate cancer approval — touting its lead against rivals with the only PARP inhibitor to have demonstrated such benefit.

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Any $12 billion megablockbuster in the portfolio tends to overshadow everything else in the pipeline. Which is something Merck can tell you a little bit about.

Keytruda not only dominates the PD-(L)1 field, it looms over everything Merck does, to the point some analysts wonder if Merck is a one-trick pony.

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