Posted on Oct 25, 2019, 5 p.m.
Tristan Edwards, co-founder, president and chief investment officer of Life Biosciences recently spoke about investing in the longevity space and why he believes the industry is set to skyrocket. Life Biosciences is an American startup that is researching potential treatments to help improve and extend the human healthspan. The following is an excerpt of the discussion with Longevity Technology.
From an investment point of view longevity has developed to a 1 or 2 on a scale of 10, but Edwards believes that this will be changing very quickly to go from a 2 to an 8-9 within the next 4-5 years. Much like the Internet of Things or A.I within the next few years he can’t imagine anyone not being aware of the ability to extend health and lifespan as an industry and as a benefit to humankind.
The Wright brothers defied expectations of just being crazy to defy gravity to take flight, after the proof of seeing it could be done it didn’t take long for this to be accepted and the claims of being crazy to be forgotten. This is where we are with longevity sciences, in the early stages of showing it can be done.
Longevity research has been evolving as a legitimate science for years, and it is on the cusp of dramatic changes. Expect to see more bright minds focusing on longevity, and soon we will treat aging. Eventually we could be talking about adding 20-30 years to the average lifespan with none of the diseases associated with aging. Not only will lifespan be extended but so will healthspan, which is the period in which a person can live a healthy and productive life.
Life Biosciences is focusing on healthspan because living longer doesn’t mean much if we can’t live better at the same time. Reprogramming cells is an exciting field. Think of a CD and the information encoded on it, when it gets scratched that information is not lost, if you fix the scratch the information can be read again. You can think of the genome along the same terms; as you age it accumulates damaged, stops reading the information correctly and starts to break down. We are starting to reverse this damage in animals studies, in the future there is potential to revert our cells to read DNA as though young again.
Big institutional investors are starting to pay attention, but the science has to keep building to a point where it is large enough for them to get more involved. Once $100 million to $200 million rounds start these big investors will really start paying attention and seriously investing. Rounds must be large enough for mandates to allow and value checks which must be put in place which can be hard in new areas. As the science progresses there will be more ramped up investment interest with bigger contributors emerging, much depends on how quickly institutions learn to adapt.
“There’s a long-held understanding that Big Pharma relies on illness for profits. But if they reframe their mission as being in the healthspan business, then the Longevity revolution is valuable for them. It’s my hope that Pharma embraces this change as a wonderful and necessary way for them to evolve their business in a much more effective way,” says Edwards.
The FDA classify aging as a disease or a condition would be a game changer, this would make longevity drugs a category for FDA approval and make those drugs reimbursable, as currently only drugs for a specific disease indication can apply for approval. This helps to put the misguided focus on illness rather than on healthspan. W.H.O has argued for aging to be considered a disease, and soon others should follow suit. Even the Lancet is pushing of it, it is absurd that everyone does not yet consider aging a disease, maybe this is related to ageism or age bias.
An older person may go to the doctor with a complaint, this may not be a major one to be responded with “Look, you’re in your 70s, you’re growing old, this is just going to happen.” What if that person was 10-20 years younger, that kind of response would be unacceptable. What Life Biosciences is working for is a time when aging happens in a way that will not promote age related diseases, for a time that should be a healthier and more productive experience.
Dr. Mehmood Khan recently left his career at PepsiCo and Takeda to join Life Biosciences as the new CEO. He is a physician scientist at heart who loves what he is doing and wants to help mankind. Dr. Khan recognises the enormous healthcare costs related to aging that could be reinvested to save many of the world’s problems. Dr. Khan has a proven track record of bringing complex science to market, this is exciting because it validates the broader longevity field, and for Edwards it validates the company within the field.
Materials provided by:
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.