Interview with Apollo Ventures which funds anti-aging companies

James Peyer has been a scientist, entrepreneur, and advisor to biotechs and pharma companies, always with a specialization for developing new classes of therapeutics. James founded Apollo to support biotech entrepreneurs strategically, scientifically, and financially as they create the next generation of medicines.

James Peyer received his PhD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow and worked on the basic biology of stem cells and improving gene therapies. He founded his first company, Genotyp, at 21 to overhaul hands-on science education in the US. Genotyp’s innovative biotech equipment leasing model and instructor training earned it the approval of the White House and the National Institutes of Health. It became the first biotech company to receive funding through Kickstarter.com. He received a BA with special honors from the University of Chicago, where he studied immunology.

Discoveries in aging biology are ready for acceleration to the clinic, where they can treat age-related disease and extend healthy lifespan.

Biotech Valley of Death

The Biotech Valley of Death is where 90 percent of research projects fail before they’re tested in humans and for every 5,000 compounds tested, only five make it to clinical trials (Milken Institute).

Phase I funding is mostly grants from the Federal and state governments.

Instrumentl helps scientists get grants
Experiment.com help with scientific crowdfunding
Science Exchange connects scientists with experts
Transcriptic is a cloud-based biotech lab testing experimental drugs
Gingo Bioworks designs custom microbes for customers.

Phase II funding

This is where Apollo Ventures can help provide $1-2 million to prove the commercial potential of a promising biotech antiaging idea.

There are other funding levels and the need for about $50-100 million to get to the first human clinical trial. An IPO or a buyout or partnership is needed for the billions to get to commercial drugs or treatment.

Aaeonian Pharmaceuticals

Aeonian Pharmaceuticals was funded by Apollo Ventures in December 2017.

Aaeonian has highly selective therapeutics for modulating the mTORC1 pathway in order to treat rare diseases. Aeonian expects to use the proceeds from the transaction to advance its pipeline of innovative therapeutic candidate programs based on its discovery of the most highly selective inhibitors of the mTORC1 pathway ever discovered.

Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a genetic multiple organ system disorder that is characterized by the development of tumor-like lesions (hamartomas) and neurodevelopmental disorders. Mutations in the TSC1 and TSC2 tumor suppressor genes occur in the majority of patients with TSC, resulting in hyperactivation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway.

About 50,000 people in the United States have been born with and suffer from Tuberous sclerosis. There are about one million people in the world who are victims of the disease.

They can suffer from seizures. Rapamycin can help control the disease but it has negative side effects.

Currently Rapamycin has dosing limits because of the negative side effects.

Aaeonian can increase the effectiveness by allowing for higher dosing without negative side effects.

The mTORC1 treatment can help prevent cancer and like Rapamycin has antiaging effects.

Cleara – antisenescent treatment

Cleara Biotech was funded by Apollo Ventures.

Cleara is working to create a new generation of treatment against senescent (aka Zombie) cells.

Mice live 25 to 36% longer when they have senescent cells removed. Other researchers have found that treating very old (24- to 27-month-old) mice with dasatinib and querceti (D+Q biweekly) led to a 36 percent higher average post-treatment lifespan and lower mortality hazard than control mice. This indicates that senolytics can reduce risk of death in old mice.

Senolytic drugs reverse damage caused by senescent cells in mice. Senescent cells that accumulate in our bodies are a major cause of health problems and enable cancer development as we age. Researchers at Cleara Biotech discovered the mechanism how senescent cells escape the natural elimination process.

FOXO4 was identified as a pivot in maintaining the viability of senescent cells. Using primary senescent cells, they observed that removing FOXO4 could trigger a “clean” cell death response, known as apoptosis. This created a new window of opportunity to eliminate these deleterious cells. FOXO4 also has a protective response to chemotherapy, it additionally opened the door towards the development of methods to overcome therapy resistance of cancer cells.

Cleara was founded to continue the evolution of FOXO4-based anti-senescence drugs and generate the fourth generation treatments. The selectivity of the third generation compound, FOXO4-DRI, for senescent cells is ~10-fold. However, it is unfortunately still too dangerous to allow for clinical trials. The Cleara Biotech mission is to improve the safety profile and potency of Proxofim. They launched the iPROX program to generate “Improved Proxofim”. This could combat senescence-driven age-related diseases, including therapy-resistant cancer.

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