Dear Founders: age1’s 2024 wishlist for new companies to unlock healthy longevity for all
2023 marked a meteoric rise in the public's interest in their own longevity. Maybe not so coincidentally, 2023 was marked by the notable rise in the number of direct-to-consumer enterprises that specialize in selling supplements and offering dedicated longevity concierge services. Alongside these prominent developments, the year also witnessed remarkable progress in the longevity biotechnology sector; 2023 brought the longevity biotech field unprecedented regulatory advances, scientific advances, validation from big pharma, and an accumulation of top talent into the field.
In 2023, we backed four stellar founders dedicated to improving the way we age. Our first investment, Aperture Therapeutics, is committed to curing neurodegenerative diseases and delaying brain aging through their drug discovery platform. We're equally excited about the other three ventures, which are presently in stealth mode, and we'll be sharing more about them soon. Moving into 2024, our focus remains on investing in extraordinary founders who are passionate about extending healthy lifespan and aspire to make a lasting impact in this field.
As we ring in the new year with that in mind, the age1 team has put together a New Year’s Company Wish List of ideas we’d love to see future founders work on.
Our 2024 wish list
Clinical trial innovation, drug repurposing & combinatorial aging targets: We’re seeking founders to innovate on clinical trial design and take on regulatory risk to get a drug approved and labeled for healthspan or age-related diseases as opposed to one specific disease, as Loyal is pioneering in dogs. This could involve:
Developing novel drugs for exciting potential geroprotector targets
In-licensing (either an asset entirely or indication-specific rights) to repurpose existing drugs that have evidence of a role in longevity, such as in these tables
Developing combinations of potential longevity therapies. This could increase potential efficacy beyond what any one small molecule or antibody could accomplish or improve the safety/tolerability profile.
Genome stability interventions: As we age, our genome undergoes many stressors leading to cellular damage. The mechanisms used to repair the genome become compromised as well. Genome instability may be the most important causal factor in human aging, yet the number of translational efforts and longevity companies working on the problem is minuscule. Here are some things that could be done in the shorter term that we’re excited about:
Improving DNA repair capabilities in humans (for example, in HSCs to protect from serial chemotherapy regimens)
Improving skincare by targeting core genome stability aging mechanisms
Tackling neurodegenerative diseases via ameliorating oxidative damage that destabilizes the neuronal genome
Reproductive longevity & women’s health: Reproductive longevity and women’s health have long been underfunded. Historically, women’s health has been neglected in medical practice, and many longevity therapeutics similarly do not tailor to women’s unique medical needs. While we are generally excited about increasing funding in this space, we are even more excited about making significant strides in improving the low-hanging fruit in this field. We are extremely excited to support approaches that delay menopause and improve fertility.
Approaches to delay menopause or extend the fertility window
Technologies to improve IVF
Artificial wombs to develop embryo models derived from human pluripotent stem cells (“synthetic embryos”) ex vivo
Organ chimeras & stasis to replace or pause aging: Innovative engineering with hardware/software that works with biology’s inherent feedback loops can help accelerate clinical translation. We’re excited to apply this thinking to the replacement theory of aging with chimeras. Think: growing human organs in host animals for transplantation or ex vivo cultivation for preclinical human models. This would require making large animal chimeras and further humanizing the host animals, with strong consideration of bioethics when designing approaches.
Vascular engineering for supporting tissue grafts and organ compatibility, to improve the success rate of transplants.
Stasis to keep chimera organs ‘banked’ in host animals until needed for retrieval.
Regeneration, glial reprogramming & neurotechnology to keep the brain young: The brain is our control center — it both receives and sends inputs and is arguably the most important organ, crucial to our existence. We are excited by approaches that work towards improving function in the brain and nervous system.
Improving cognitive function in the aging brain — neuromodulatory approaches such as deep brain stimulation and glial reprogramming
Regenerating severed or degenerating nerves (spinal cord, eye axons, etc)
Tissue engineering to restore aging: with aging and age-related disease, we lose optimal function and control of many body systems. We are excited about approaches for improving functional outcomes to prolong physical independence.
Generating fully rejuvenated and functional HSCs
Fully rejuvenating an aged human thymus
Strategies for restoring musculoskeletal function
Developing new therapeutic modalities inspired by nature: Naked mole rats, bowhead whales, and Galapagos tortoises: what makes these critters have such unusual longevity and resistance to disease? Fortunately, we are starting to have a clue - and that means it’s only a matter of time before we start harnessing their superpowers. We might not be able to create PlanariaMan just yet, but we ought to try heading in that direction!
Developing transgenic animal models with longevity genes from different long-lived species (e.g. bowhead whales, bats, Galapagos tortoises)
Extrapolating the characteristic properties of certain tissues to other tissue/organ types (e.g. the regenerative ability of the liver or cancer resistance of the heart)
Harnessing unique aspects of biology from other species (e.g. hemoglobin of lugworms) to apply to treated age-related diseases
This is far from an exhaustive list of ideas that would propel the longevity field forward. We expect that a large portion of our investments will be in ideas and theses that do not match those we already hold internally. We are firm believers in founder-driven visions.
We encourage you to brainstorm with us — reach out, we would love to chat. We need exceptional founders to work on the hardest problem: achieving healthy lifespan extension within the next decade.
Build now, age later.