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$180M Venture Fund Backing Age-Related Disease Start-Ups

Hands of older person

(Steve Buissinne, Pixabay)

1 Dec. 2021. A new venture capital fund aims to finance research entrepreneurs addressing root causes of age-related diseases with therapies and early diagnostics. Apollo Health Ventures, a five year-old enterprise based in Boston and Berlin, says this is its second investment fund, which raised $180 million (€157.5 million) from new and current investors.

Apollo Health backs start-ups designing new treatments and diagnostics for underlying causes and conditions likely to progress into damaging disorders later in life. Examples are companies addressing overall cellular health and wellness as a way to protect against conditions with prevent chronic inflammation later on, and maintaining a healthy immune system to help prevent complications from infectious diseases such as Covid-19. But Apollo Health also supports start-ups developing technologies that can be applied to longevity science, such as gene editing and machine learning for precision diagnostics.

The company aims to spin-off start-ups from academic research labs with new breakthrough discoveries applicable to human longevity. Apollo Health then incubates new enterprises to identify and protect their intellectual property, build expertise through collaborations with experts, and establish proof-of-concept for their discoveries to help attract future investors. Start-ups can then devise and execute an R&D strategy, build its leadership team, create a functioning organization, and plan for clinical trials of its treatments or diagnostics.

Ten biotech companies funded so far

“The health care sector,” says Apollo Health Ventures co-founder and partner Nils Regge in a company statement, “is experiencing a paradigm shift from treating age-related diseases long after first symptoms have developed to targeting the root causes at earlier stages in the disease pathology.” Regge adds Apollo Health follows a “systematic approach in catalyzing and building transformational companies with breakthrough technologies in an exciting therapeutic landscape with tremendous upside potential.”

From its first fund, Apollo Health is supporting eight biotechnology companies in the U.S., U.K., and Europe, and two other companies still operating in stealth mode. Businesses backed by Apollo Health include Aeovian Pharmaceuticals in San Francisco, addressing the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1, or mTORC1 pathway, where abnormal signals are implicated in age-related genetic mutations and rare diseases. Aeovian Pharma is developing treatments for disorders from mTORC1 signals that it says are safer than current therapies. The company is spun-off from the Buck Institute in Novato, California that specializes in research on age-related diseases.

Another recipient of Apollo Health funding is Cleara Biotech in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Cleara Biotech develops therapies that eliminate senescent cells responsible for cancer, particularly late-stage cancers that resist therapy. Senescent cells stop multiplying, but are not eliminated from the body, thus accumulating over time and tainting healthy cells. Senescent cell accumulations are linked to a range of age-related diseases including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis, as well as cytokine-induced inflammation from Covid-19 infections. Peter de Keizer, who studies senescent cell processes at University Medical Center Utrecht, co-founded Clear Biotech in 2018, and serves as its CEO.

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