Company backed by initial funding from ARCH Venture Partners,
Venrock, Wuxi and Mayo Clinic
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Unity Biotechnology today announced that it is developing medicines to
treat and eliminate age-related diseases and increase healthspan, or the
amount of time an individual lives in good health. Unity‘s initial
funding has been led by founding investor ARCH Venture Partners, with
significant contributions from Venrock, WuXi, Mayo Clinic, Unity’s
management team and others.
Unity will initially focus on cellular senescence, a biological
mechanism theorized to be a key driver of many age-related diseases,
including osteoarthritis, glaucoma and atherosclerosis. A study
published in the February 3, 2016, issue of Nature demonstrated
that periodic clearance of “toxic” senescent cells in naturally-aged
mice preserved a wide array of tissue and organ functions, delayed tumor
formation, and extended lifespan by as much as 35 percent, all without
any observed adverse effects.1 A previously published study
demonstrated that a pharmacologic agent could kill senescent cells in
mice by targeting a pathway critical for senescent cell survival.2
“Imagine drugs that could prevent, maybe even cure, arthritis or heart
disease or loss of eyesight. It’s an incredible aspiration,” said
Nathaniel David, Ph.D., chief executive officer and co-founder of Unity
Biotechnology. “If we can translate this biology into medicines, our
children might grow up in significantly better health as they age. There
will be many obstacles to overcome, but our team is committed and
inspired to achieve our mission.”
Unity Biotechnology has the most comprehensive cellular senescence
intellectual property estate in the industry, controlling the patents
that arose from foundational science published in premiere scientific
journals, including Nature and Nature Medicine. Lead
authors of these seminal papers and various other investigators
associated with the Mayo Clinic contributed to the formation of Unity.
Unity’s scientific co-founders include: Jan M. van Deursen, Ph.D.,
professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Mayo Clinic; Judith
Campisi, Ph.D., professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging;
and Daohong Zhou, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
“This has been a long journey, and we’re at the point now where we can
start making medicines to achieve in humans what we’ve achieved in
mice,” said Dr. van Deursen. “I can’t wait to see what happens as we
move into the clinic.”
Unity’s executive team has collectively moved more than 90 therapeutic
candidates into human clinical trials and is responsible for the
creation of 13 FDA-approved medicines. In addition to Dr. David, who was
previously chief scientific officer of Kythera and has co-founded four
other successful biotechnology companies that together raised over $1.5
billion in financing, other members of the management team include:
Keith R. Leonard, executive chairman; he was previously chief
executive officer of Kythera
Jamie Dananberg, M.D., chief medical officer; he was previously EVP
and head of the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Therapeutic Area Unit at
Dan Marquess, D. Phil., chief scientific officer; he previously served
as VP, Research Leadership and head of Medicinal Chemistry at
Theravance Biopharma, Inc.
Unity’s board of directors includes Mr. Leonard, Dr. David, Robert
Nelsen, co-founder and managing director of ARCH Venture Partners,
Kristina Burow, managing director of ARCH Venture Partners, and Camille
Samuels, partner at Venrock.
“It is inspirational to see such a robust engagement of the scientific
community, which I think will facilitate an important and requisite
dialogue around the development of drugs that change how we treat
diseases associated with aging,” said Ms. Burow.
“Unity is one of the few companies that could have an enormous and
direct impact on nearly every single person,” added Mr. Nelsen.
About Unity Biotechnology
Unity Biotechnology is designing therapeutics that prevent, halt or
reverse numerous diseases of aging. The Company is targeting biological
mechanisms that unify many afflictions, including arthritis, heart
disease, kidney failure, loss of eyesight and loss of hearing. Many of
these diseases share a common root cause in senescence biology. With an
initial focus on senescence biology, Unity is designing medicines that
lengthen healthspan, the amount of time an individual lives in good
health. The Company is committed to advancing the field of aging biology
through an open and robust engagement of the scientific community and by
facilitating dialogue around the development of drugs that change how
humans age. For more information, please visit www.unitybiotechnology.com.
Mayo Clinic and Dr. Van Deursen have a financial interest in the
technology referenced in this news release. The revenue that Mayo Clinic
will receive is used to support its not-for-profit mission in patient
care, education and research.
1 Baker DJ, Childs BG, Durik M, Wijers ME, Sieben CJ, et al.
Naturally occurring p16Ink4a-positive cells shorten healthy
lifespan. Nature. 2016.
2 Chang J, Wang Y, Shao L, Laberge R-M, Demaria M, et al.
Clearance of senescent cells by ABT263 rejuvenates aged hematopoietic
stem cells in mice. Nature Medicine. 2016; 22,78-83.
BrewLife on behalf of Unity Biotechnology
Paula Gitis, 415-946-1083