AgeX Therapeutics is a spin-off of BioTime, one of the earliest of the present generation of stem cell therapy companies, and run by a fairly vocal supporter of the idea that stem cell treatments have the potential to help address aging. Considered as a whole, the stem cell field, for all of the tremendous progress made to date, actually hasn’t moved far towards the classes of therapy that would be required to address the roots of stem cell population decline in aging. Treatments have instead been compensatory, or attempts to enhance regeneration, or attempts to reduce inflammation, or tissue engineering for transplant, or attempts (largely failed so far) to increase the numbers of a specific cell type in situ. All of these have some small overlap with issues involving age-related tissue damage and stem cell decline, but only a small overlap.
AgeX Therapeutics is perhaps of interest to our community for the fact that Aubrey de Grey of the SENS Research Foundation has taken a position there, more than his usual presence on the advisory board of a relevant venture. In addition, the company has recently raised funding from investors that include Jim Mellon’s and Michael Greve’s funds. So it seems worth looking more closely at the lines of development here than one would for the average stem cell therapy startup, to speculate on how this would lead to classes of therapy closer to the SENS vision for addressing cell loss and stem cell dysfunction in aging. We shall see how it progresses.
AgeX Therapeutics, Inc. is a biotechnology company formed in 2017 as a subsidiary of BioTime, Inc. Its mission is to apply technology related to cell immortality and pluripotency to human aging and age-related disease. The Company’s technology platform has three facets: Pluripotent stem cell-derived progenitor cell lines representing over 200 types of cells in the body (PureStem technology); HyStem matrices; and induced tissue regeneration (iTR) – the latter being an emerging technology directed at inducing the immortal regeneration of tissues in the body.
Through BioTime, AgeX has license to a large consolidated technology and patent estate including technologies invented at Geron and subsequent companies. AgeX is leading off with cell-based regenerative therapeutics for significant unmet needs in age-related disease such as type II diabetes and ischemic disease. In addition, it will also be advancing products based on an entirely new technology platform aimed at the central molecular processes of aging itself designated “induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR).” AgeX scientists believe that the combination of telomerase therapy and iTR may unlock the potential of immortal tissue regeneration in humans.
Some naturally-occurring animals such as the Mexican salamander can profoundly regenerate damaged tissues. Humans also have this potential, but only in the first weeks of development. Using advanced molecular and artificial intelligence technologies, we have identified pathways we believe may provide means of unlocking this profound biology in human medicine. The pathways suggest that they may also be integral to the biology of aging and cancer as well. Patents relating to this emerging technology have been filed and animal studies are currently underway. The combination of pluripotent stem cell and iTR technology may provide AgeX with a valuable platform to address large markets associated with chronic degenerative age-related disease.