Buck Institute-founded start-up Gerostate Alpha seeks to crowdfund its biotech platform.
When Y Combinator so likes your ideas, it gives you $1 million to start a company, what’s your next move? As of today, for visionary biotech Gerostate Alpha, it’s crowdfunding on the WeFunder platform.
Longevity.Technology: Crowdfunding might not seem a natural fit for biotech, but more and more companies are looking to democratise longevity investing; after all, aging affects everyone and the patient population is nearly 8 billion people and growing every day. We’ll be looking with interest to see how Gerostate Alpha does in its crowdfunding, as success will pave the way for other biotechs to follow suit. Longevity democratisation is catching fire; last month we covered VitaDAO, a platform for the acceleration of longevity R&D through “community-governed and decentralized drug development.”
No longer is investing in longevity start-ups limited to accredited investors only; last month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) increased the maximum amount that can be raised through a Regulation Crowdfunding campaign from $1.07 million in any twelve-month period to $5 million – a whopping almost five-fold increase.
Gerostate Alpha’s WeFunder pitch claims an impressive 20% success rate for its platform and lists the following milestones:
- Trial 10-15 compounds in mice for lifespan extension and slowed aging over the next 12 months
- Lead optimisation covering diverse/novel targets of aging; identify novel targets and pathways (12 months)
- Evaluate efficacy in preclinical diseases/syndromes (12-24 months), complete preclinical toxicology testing and pharmacokinetics
- IND enabling Phase 1 (24.36 months)
Who are Gerostate Alpha?
California-based Gerostate Alpha was founded by three Buck researchers: Simon Melov, Gordon Lithgow and Mark Lucanic; they are focused on developing new drugs to increase health span and extend lifespan by treating aging itself. Rather than limiting their research to one mechanism or hallmark of aging, Gerostate Alpha takes a broader, wide-spectrum view, use an unbiased drug screening approach to identify molecules that might slow the aging process, tackling key aging phenotypes.
Their initial strategy was to screen small molecule libraries; in screening around 60,000 compounds, Gerostate Alpha identified over 30 hits that have since been validated. Mark Lucanic told Longevity.Technology that some of the best hits resulted in lifespan extensions in C. elegans of around 40%, which is large for a pharmacological intervention.
The company raised $2.1m in initial seed round, at $15m valuation; the current round is $2m, with $250,000 already committed at $1m post valuation.
Gerostate Alpha has already identified an off-patent compound that appears to impact bone loss in aging mice.
“Preliminarily, it looks as though it’s not only mitigating bone loss, but also looks like it’s leading to bone growth and restoring them to more youthful states,” Lucanic told us.
Nathan Cheng, whose Longevity Marketcap “seeks to track and analyze the growing anti-aging biomedical revolution” is excited by Gerostate Alpha’s move and hopes to see a new generation of early-stage longevity biotech founders that are able to quickly raise capital.
“Since March 15, 2021, new SEC regulations allow startups to raise up to $5M/year through crowdfunding,” he said. “For early-stage longevity biotech startups, this is a game-changer, especially considering how much more capital-intensive biotech is compared to traditional tech.
“Early longevity biotech founders are now uniquely positioned to raise significant capital through platforms like Republic.co and WeFunder. All they need to do is tap the tremendous passion of the believers in the growing longevity community.”
What is crowdfunding?
Rather than a few investors putting in a lot, lots of investors put in a little. Publicised on the web, and pitched directly to the public, companies can alternatively finance new ventures and products by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people.