New Biotech Startup Is Trying to Interrupt AgingAuthor: Daniel Mather
Innovation among startups takes many forms and finds its focus in all manner of interesting areas from investment to artificial intelligence.
One realm though that has fascinated biotechnologists almost since the discipline came into existence is the aging process and how it might be interrupted and even reversed through cutting edge innovations.
Now one enterprise based in California is taking aim at the aging process in earnest and looking to turn their ideas in the field into a viable business proposition.
Building on the progress made by a small team of US researchers in recent months, Unity Biotechnology is targeting the production of therapies that can potentially prevent the development and offset the effects of aging and age-related diseases.
The ideas are based on breakthroughs and new knowledge linked to cells that exist in the human body in a different state than the vast majority.
These cells behave differently from ordinary cells, which are constantly under stress and which are obliged to either function in ways that are useful to our bodies or die and be replaced. Unlike most, these certain types of cell remain in the body unchanged and eventually, according to the latest scientific theories, go on to cause aging and aging-related diseases.
The cells that are understood to stay in our bodies without being useful or dying off are referred to by scientists as being senescent cells.
And it’s these cells that Unity Biotechnology is working with aiming to design therapies to clear out in ways that might effectively help to keep the aging process at bay.
Targeting common ailments
Initial targets for Unity Biotechnology in its work on senescent cells include the kind of common ailments that are most readily associated with the aging process such as osteoarthritis, glaucoma and atherosclerosis.
Research work has shown already that senescent cells can be cleared away in mice by methods that involve making it close to impossible for these cells to avoid dying in the body.
So in relevant scientific communities it’s already clear that the idea of targeting these cells and finding ways to make sure they die off has real potential for use in mammals.
For Unity Biotechnology, the challenge now is to demonstrate that targeting cells involved in aging can have significant potential in the context of human health.
The focus for the company will be firmly on offering quality of life benefits through therapies that may soon become widely available.
There are of course some notable hurdles for Unity and its potential products to overcome in terms of demonstrating effectiveness and safety to drug regulators in the US and elsewhere in the world.
But the idea of interrupting and slowing the aging process certainly looks to be closer than ever before and Unity Biotechnology’s fascinating work is sure to be watched with great interest worldwide, not least by startup investors and VCs potentially looking to back the young Californian company.