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Where’s the longevity funding going?

Talko about longevity funding

By Abhi KumarPublished 4 months ago 3 min read
Where’s the longevity funding going?
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

One of the most striking findings of our recent Annual Longevity Investment Report was that the vast majority of longevity funding (80%) is concentrated into just five of the 25 domains that make up the field. The data shows that cellular reprogramming, discovery platforms, longevity drugs, rejuvenation and regeneration are the domains that attracted some $4 billion of the total investment in 2022.

Longevity.Technology: It is inevitable that some domains within a market will attract more investor interest than others, and longevity is no exception. We have noticed longevity investors are increasingly divided into two camps – those prepared to play the long game and invest in longevity biotech opportunities, and those seeking a faster return on their investment through opportunities in areas such as diagnostics, longevity clinics and supplements. So what are the hot areas within longevity, and are there opportunities outside of those for investors?

The top five longevity domains for investment in 2022, along with the top three financings in each domain, are as follows:

1. Cellular reprogramming
Cellular reprogramming refers to companies that are aiming to reverse an older cell into a younger cell state by directly reprogramming its code: i.e its genetic or epigenetic makeup. Cellular reprogramming by Yamanaka factors can reprogram somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells. However, this came with therapeutic hazards as the technique involved complete dedifferentiation. There are companies that are aiming to find new genetic targets to reduce cells’ epigenetic age whilst maintaining their somatic identity (partial cellular reprogramming).

The fact that cellular reprogramming holds the top spot is, of course, solely due to the $3 billion raised by Altos Labs. Without it, cellular programming wouldn’t even be in the top five domains, but the fact that the funding is concentrated in one company does not diminish the impact on the field.

Since the groundbreaking work by Takahashi and Yamanaka in 2006, which first demonstrated that age-related cellular changes can be reversed, the field of cellular reprogramming has gained a great deal of traction. The revolutionary possibilities that cellular reprogramming holds, if it can be mastered, would have immense impact on health span and even lifespan. The field has also attracted some big names – Altos Labs has reportedly been backed by Jeff Bezos, and Calico Labs, a Google spinout, is tackling aging in part by focusing on cellular reprogramming. Cellular reprogramming should continue to grow and attract significant capital, but investors must recognise that these companies are only at the ‘pre-clinical in vitro’ and ‘pre-clinical in vivo’ stages.

2. Longevity discovery platforms

Drug discovery is a long, expensive, and often unsuccessful process. Platform technologies are considered a valuable tool to improve efficiency and quality in drug product development. There are many companies in the longevity space that are developing proprietary discovery platforms to enable the discovery of therapeutic targets for longevity.

3. Longevity drugs

Longevity pharmacology field promises to revolutionise the healthcare of a growing aging population. A longevity drug is any novel molecule that was designed or discovered to specifically act on a longevity gene/pathway (rapalogs, pgc1-activators, sirtuin modulators, etc).

4. Rejuvenation

Rejuvenation has many definitions in the longevity industry. Arguably, anything that reduces the biological age of a cell, organ or person is “rejuvenating”. Our report has made rejuvenation a distinct category from reprogramming and regeneration, although both will technically rejuvenate cells and systems. Rejuvenation in this context is anything that takes the contents of a cell to a younger state due to intracellular clearance or rejuvenation of organelles within the cell.


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