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13 longevity startups to watch, according to top investors

Reversing and slowing the ageing process is expected to be a hot sector for decades to come. Here are some of the startups making waves

By Mimi Billing and Kai Nicol-Schwarz

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Finding a way to stem ageing is a growing focus for European tech investors and startups.

At least three investment funds investing specifically in companies in this area have launched in Europe in the last quarter.

Global investments in longevity-focused early-stage companies have so far reached more than $40bn in 2021, according to the Aging Analytics Agency. And a 2019 report by the Bank of America predicted that the market is likely to grow to roughly $600bn by 2025 — that’s larger than the world’s water industry is today.

The longevity trend is strongest in the US, but there are European startups in the mix.

But which are likely to be the big winners? Sifted asked seven longevity and healthtech investors and experts to share the companies they’re keeping an eye on. The only catch: none of the companies could be in their portfolios already.

Jan Adams, venture partner at Apollo Health Ventures

Apollo Health raised a $180m fund in November and has invested in companies like Samsara Therapeutics and Cleara Biotech.

Jan Adams, venture partner at Apollo Health Ventures

Cellvie — Switzerland

Founded in 2020, Cellvie is working on therapeutic mitochondria transplantation. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, and mitochondrial dysfunction may be one of the essential drivers of age-related degeneration. Cellvie’s technology aims to reintroduce functional mitochondria into organs with failing mitochondria, which may increase the survival of tissues upon acute injury but may also help reinvigorate ageing tissues in general.

Curexsys — Germany

Founded in 2017, Curexsys is a pre-clinical stage drug development company that develops exosomes. Exosomes are small extracellular vesicles that are secreted by various cell types and package several signalling molecules. As such, stem cell-derived exosomes have high intrinsic anti-inflammatory and regenerative activities and may deliver on the promise of regenerative stem cell therapies. Curexsys is supported by strong strategic partners, such as Evotec, a major commercial research organisation, and Sartorius, a prominent research and manufacturing company in the pharmaceutical industry.

Senisca — UK

Founded in 2020 as a biotech spinout company from the University of Exeter, the company is dedicated to the development of new approaches to prevent cellular senescence, a major hallmark of ageing, by targeting a process called alternative splicing. Their approach may help restore the ability of cells to “fine tune” the expression of their genes to rejuvenate aged cells, which may be leveraged to target age-related diseases and  aesthetic signs of ageing.

Christian Weiss, founding partner at Heal Capital

Christian Weiss, founding partner at Heal Capital

Samsara Therapeutics — UK

This longevity startup was founded in 2018 and has developed a screening platform that identifies new molecules that extend healthy lifespan across species. Its main focus is on autophagy, cells’ method for recycling damaged components, which declines with age. According to the startup, there is compelling evidence that boosting autophagy leads to increased healthspan and lifespan, while impaired autophagy drives many serious diseases. Funded by Apollo Health Ventures and Korify Capital.

Davide Ottolini, cofounder and managing partner at Korify Capital

Korify Capital, based in Switzerland, launched a $100m fund in December and has invested in US-based Cambrian Biopharma.

Cleara Biotech — Netherlands 

Senescent cells that accumulate in our bodies are a major cause of health problems and enable cancer development as we age. Researchers at Cleara discovered the mechanism behind how senescent cells escape the natural elimination process. Based on this discovery, they have successfully developed and optimised therapeutics to treat patients with a range of diseases caused by this failure to clear senescent cells. Backed by Apollo Health Ventures.

Fiona Pathiraja, founder and managing partner at Crista Galli Ventures

Fiona Pathiraja, managing partner at Christa Galli Ventures.

TreeFrog Therapeutics — France

Founded in 2018, this stem cell company develops C-stem, a platform to accelerate the making of self-replicating cells which can form to grow any part of the human body. It raised a Series B of €64m from XAnge, Bpifrance, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Leonard Green & Partners.

Tracked.bio — Denmark

This biotechnology company was founded in 2019 and develops fully automated phenotyping and identification systems for model organisms with the use of deep learning. The systems help evaluate the efficacy of ageing interventions.

Marc P Bernegger, founding partner of Maximon

Maximon is a Swiss longevity company builder with a separate €96m fund for co-investments. The first company to launch is Avea, a supplement longevity startup.

Marc P Bernegger, founding partner of MaximonVitaDAO — Germany

VitaDAO is a decentralised autonomous organisation collective for community-governed and decentralised drug development. Its mission is the acceleration of research and development in the longevity space and the extension of human life and healthspan. It collectively funds and digitises research in the form of IP-NFTs.

Rejuveron — Switzerland

Rejuveron is a Swiss biotech platform company, that together with entrepreneurial scientists, develops and improves therapies and technologies in this space by creating subsidiary companies. Backed by London-based Apeiron Investment Group, the family office of Christian Angermayer.

Phil Newman, founder of First Longevity

First Longevity is an investment brokerage business that works with VCs and startups in the field of longevity.

Phil Newman, founder of First Longevity

GlycanAge — UK

Personalised medicine is the future, but measuring ageing biomarkers is a complex undertaking. Taking a different approach to measuring biological age, GlycanAge is a British-Croatian startup focused on analysing glycosylation patterns to deliver what it claims is the “most accurate” measure of biological age. A direct-to-consumer glycan test kit measures both biological age and chronic low grade systemic inflammation, and clinicians provide advice on lifestyle changes to improve results.

Humanity — UK

Humanity is an app designed to help slow or even reverse your rate of ageing. It calculates your rate of ageing and biological age by drawing on data from your smartphone and wearable devices to track biomarkers such as heart rate, step rate, sleep and activity.

Humanity was founded in 2019 and launched in August this year, raising $5m across two seed rounds in 2020 and 2021. The app has already amassed more than 30,000 users, and recently added a new nutrition tracking component, as it seeks to deliver “more predictive and more personalised” results for its users.

Rejuvenate Biomed — Belgium

Rejuvenate Biomed is a biomedical company developing novel combination drugs for age-related diseases. The company has developed a proprietary AI screening platform to evaluate if safe, existing treatments can be used in new combinations to maintain our natural cellular resilience and postpone the onset of certain age-related diseases.

The company recently secured €15.7m in Series B funding, led by Rejuveron and Vesalius Biocapital. The funds will be used to accelerate the clinical development of its lead drug candidate in sarcopenia, an age-related disease defined by the loss of muscle strength, quality, and mass.

Genflow Bioscience — UK

British biotech startup Genflow Biosciences is on a mission to develop gene therapies designed to halt or slow the ageing process and is leveraging the power of centenarians. Backed by investors including Longevitytech.fund, the company is developing therapies that deliver a variant of the Sirtuin 6 gene found in people aged over 100 years old. When expressed, this gene can extend lifespan in mice by an average of 30%, and Genflow aims to use this genetic variant to prevent the accelerated ageing process and already has a pipeline of compounds for human indications including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and Werner’s syndrome.

Mimi Billing is Sifted’s Nordic correspondent. She also covers healthtech, and tweets from @MimiBilling.
Kai Nicol-Schwarz is a reporter at Sifted. He covers healthtech and community journalism, and tweets from @NicolSchwarzK

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