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Jim Mellon's biotech Juvenescence raises $50m for anti-ageing therapies

Billionaire's belief in emerging anti-ageing therapies fuels start up

Juvenescence, a UK biotech company focused on developing anti-ageing therapies, has secured $50m in a series A financing round.

Headquartered in the British offshore tax haven the Isle of Man, Juvanescence is one of a number of companies looking to go beyond merely treating the symptoms of diseases, and strike at the underlying mechanisms - many of which are associated with the ageing process.

Jim Mellon

The company's chairman and co-founder is Jim Mellon, the British billionaire ex-fund manager who became a convert to the emerging science of anti-ageing a few years ago, and has decided to pour his money into his own biotech ventures, despite having virtually no experience in the field before.

Establishing the venture in 2016, Mellon has come together with four other co-founders  -  Dr Greg Bailey, Dr Declan Doogan, Anthony Chow, and Alexander Pickett - who all have experience in either drug development or life science entrepreneurship and investment.

The new funding has already been allocated to advance the biotech’s AI-generated programmes and accelerate licensing and partnership arrangements. While the field of anti-ageing therapies continues to attract some far-fetched claims, Mellon says his company is deadly serious about investing in the emerging science.

Mellon commented on the fundraising, which included $15m from him and his fellow co-founders: “We raised exactly what we wanted to raise and no more, as we are the biggest shareholders of Juvenescence and we don’t want to see the company diluted.”

The company will be both discovering its own molecules and in-licensing candidates which “will be funded and shepherded by ourselves”, said Mellon.

The firm's chief executive is Dr Greg Bailey, also a financier with a medical degree, who commented:

“The team that we’re assembling is remarkable for any biotech company, let along one at this early stage of development.

“We have sourced a portfolio of compelling therapies, some of which we will endeavour to take into the clinic in the medium term, and others which we hope to commercialise in the nearer term.”

Juvenescence’s portfolio currently includes a broad range of technologies and ventures, some of which are familiar from other AI-based drug discovery ventures, while others sound like storylines from science fiction.  These include Insilico Medicine, a next-generation artificial intelligence company specialising in the application of deep learning to drug discovery and ageing research; Juvenescence AI, a joint venture with Insilico Medicine focused on the clinical development of AI-generated compounds; NetraPharma, a joint venture using artificial intelligence to improve clinical trial design.

Probably the most audacious idea is LyGenesis, a company with seeks to use a patient’s own lymph nodes as bioreactors to grow functioning ectopic organs. Another venture is AgeX Therapeutics, a company applying intellectual property related to cell immortality and pluripotency to biogerontology.

The company has also signed several deals with the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, a global leader in the fast-developing field of ageing research, and Juvenescence says it is in advanced negotiations with several other undisclosed research institutions.

Further partnerships in the field of longevity will be announced in coming months, and Juvenescence says it will keep adding to its staff to include a full suite of R&D and commercialisation experts.

Article by
Gemma Jones

12th June 2018

From: Research

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