Calico is just one company that promises to make major headlines in the longevity research and investing space.
Longevity research companies have one aim: to help people live longer. It’s something we all have a vested interest in, presumably—but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to invest in this space. That’s because plenty of longevity companies remain private—and unless you’re a venture capitalist, it’s pretty much impossible to secure a stake.
But that doesn’t mean investors should ignore these private longevity research companies. Plenty are at work on innovative, fascinating studies, which makes them worth watching in their own right. And if they do go public one day? Well, you’ll already have done some research.
Looking for the fountain of youth? Consider the following.
Calico tops our list of longevity research companies. That’s because this company, founded by Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) in 2013, has never shied away from the immensity of its goal. “With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives,” Google’s CEO, Larry Page said, announcing the new company.
From its very founding, then, Calico has recognized the uniqueness and difficulty of its mission. This isn’t about curing a genetic defect or disorder: it’s about slowing a natural process that affects every single living being.
Talk about thinking big.
Since then, Calico has taken some exciting steps towards realizing this far-flung goal. It has partnered with the Broad Institute (of CRISPR-Cas9 fame), the Jackson Laboratory and the Buck Institute. Other projects have been initiated with AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), AncestryDNA and QB3.
And while Calico is still a long way from realizing immortality, these partnerships signal wider interest in the space … and a belief in its potential.
2. Human Longevity
Human Longevity is another longevity research company to watch. Like Calico, it’s not afraid to make big claims: Human Longevity promises its products and services will “revolutionize the practice of medicine.”
Those services include genomic sequencing and analysis. The longevity research company is also developing a comprehensive database of genomic information called the HLI Knowledgebase. Together, these should empower the life science sector as a whole to develop more effective, genetically targeted drugs.
But that’s not all. Human Longevity is also investigating how stem cell-based therapies might one day extend the human lifespan.
And just like Calico, Human Longevity has some big name partners. In 2016, the company signed a decade-long agreement with AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN, LON:AZN). This partnership enabled Human Longevity to sequence and analyze DNA samples from AstraZeneca’s clinical trials, adding the information to its HLI Knowledgebase and Health Nucleus. This goes towards its goal of having one million integrated health records in the database by the year 2020.
In one of its recent press releases, Human Longevity announced its results from its ongoing research on gastroenterology and related illnesses. The analysis demonstrated the importance of the gut microbiome, as well as the potential for genetic identifiers enabling early detection and treatment. Longevity also announced the hiring of Scott Sorensen, former Ancestry executive, as CTO of the company.
Genescient hopes to keep you young by staving off aging diseases. To that end, it’s at work on numerous drug candidates, all designed to treat things like diabetes or sepsis. These are still in the proof of concept stage.
So what makes Genescient interesting? Laboratory Head Kennedy Schaal previously told the Investing News Network (INN)s that it’s “the first company to use the force of evolution to selectively breed a model organism for longevity.”
Its technology is based on 10 lines of Drosophila melanogaster—flies that have been selectively bred for longevity. As Schaal told us, “These flies now live more than 20 weeks; 4 to 5 times longer than the lifespan of regular flies.”
Impressive—but we’re still talking about flies. As it turns out, however, this research has major implications for human longevity. “Since fly genes in the metabolic pathways exhibit more than 90 percent correspondence with human genes, we are then able to identify the human analogs of these genes,” Schaal explained. “This understanding … provides the basis for the study of human aging, chronic disease and possible longevity solutions.” Genescient has been rather quiet in recent years, it hasn’t released any press releases since 2015.
Next, there’s Gero. This biotech isn’t just generating longevity research—it’s developing new mathematical methods too. The company works with high dimensional omics data to identify therapeutic intervention points—and as its website explains, the data is so complex, it demands new approaches to mathematical analysis.
Its investigational drug candidates are all in the preclinical stage. The longevity research company focuses on diseases ranging from cancer and type 2 diabetes to bacterial infections.
Gero is currently conducting a nematode study with Robert Reis, a leading figure in nematode life extension research. Gero also presented its ‘personal wellness calculator’ in March 2017. With this announcement, the company has branched into the fitness wearables market. The competitive advantage it claims is in personalizing the technology. This enables Gero to not only apply the knowledge that its longevity research has uncovered, but also likely help provide information for future longevity research with the data collected moving forward. It was recently announced that Gero’s wearable fitness product was able to predict biological age, and detect things like arrhythmia. This may have implications for health practitioners as well as health insurance providers.
5. Navitor Pharmaceuticals
With such big name investors as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Sanofi-Genzyme (NYSE:SNY, EPA:SAN) and Atlas Venture, Navitor Pharmaceuticals is worth watching. The drug company’s platform is based on mTORC1, a protein kinase complex which regulates cellular aging.
“Navitor’s approach is to selectively ‘turn up’ or ‘turn down’ these cellular pathways to restore normal activity of mTORC1,” reads the company’s website. In so doing, it hopes to cure numerous age-related diseases, as well as some genetic disorders.
The company recent announcements include seminal discoveries by its founder, Dr. Sabatini, that relate to the role of nutrient sensors in mTOR1 regulation. Navitor also announced plans to develop an activator for the treatment of neurological and fibrotic disorders such as treatment-resistant-depression.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Amanda Kay, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.