Rejuvenation Technologies Raises $10.6M Seed Financing Led by Khosla Ventures to Develop mRNA Therapeutics to Reverse Aging
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Rejuvenation Technologies, a biotechnology company developing mRNA-based therapeutics to address mechanisms of aging, today announced a $10.6M seed financing round led by Khosla Ventures. Shanda Ventures, Asymmetry Ventures, Merchant Adventures, Longevity Tech Fund, and Y Combinator also participated in the round. The company has also raised $4.6M in grant funding, bringing the total amount raised to $15.2M.
The funding will be used to advance its programs to IND approval in fibrotic disease, such as pulmonary fibrosis and liver cirrhosis, as well as early research targeting the immune system. Rejuvenation’s lead candidate targets a key aging mechanism, telomere shortening. The company’s products include optimized telomerase mRNA encapsulated in custom tissue-targeted lipid nanoparticles (LNP). The company plans to expand its operations and bring on additional team members to oversee scale-up manufacturing, clinical operations, and R&D efforts to expand mRNA delivery capabilities to additional organ systems.
Rejuvenation’s co-founders John Ramunas, Ph.D., CEO, and Glenn Markov, Ph.D., COO, have worked together for over 12 years, including at Stanford University where they completed their Ph.D.s in the lab of Helen Blau on telomere extension and epigenetic reprogramming. Dan Chambers, thoracic transplant physician and lung fibrosis disease expert from The University of Queensland, will join the company as Chief Medical Officer. The company has invented an mRNA LNP approach capable of rewinding years of telomere shortening in stem cells in the body with a single dose. The technology is based in part on work the co-founders did at Stanford, which was published in the FASEB Journal, and further innovations at Rejuvenation.
“Telomere extension in mice extends healthspan and lifespan, and there is a lot of evidence that it will work in humans as well. Our vision is to treat everyone, and we’re starting with fatal orphan diseases with high unmet medical need,” said Ramunas. “Our synthetic telomerase RNA-based approach has key advantages, for example it is fast-acting, transient and non-integrating and thus avoids immortalization of cells, as well as hypoimmunogenic to avoid activating an immune response.”
“Telomeres represent a fundamental aging clock that shorten as we age. Reversing telomere shortening would potentially prevent several age-related diseases. At the cellular level, short telomeres result in a chronic DNA damage response, reduced mitochondrial function, senescence and cell death. To deliver mRNA to the body, Rejuvenation developed proprietary LNP technology to deliver therapies into the lung and liver,” said Blau, who is also a co-founder at Rejuvenation Technologies.
“A single dose of our telomerase mRNA reverses years of telomere shortening in hours. Rejuvenation’s LNP technology can also deliver mRNA to the lung and liver, and we’ve shown remarkable efficacy in preclinical models in both liver fibrosis and liver failure,” said Markov.
The key role of telomeres and telomerase in cellular aging was recognized with the 2009 Nobel Prize. Rejuvenation's founders showed that telomerase mRNA can be used to reverse this fundamental hallmark of aging, and recently invented a way to deliver telomerase mRNA to stem cells in vivo. Telomere shortening is one of the fundamental “hallmarks of aging” that drive age-related disease. Short telomeres have a causal role in other hallmarks of aging including cellular senescence, stem cell failure, and epigenetic dysregulation.
“The convergence of these technologies, along with immense public interest in aging and in mRNA due to mRNA-based COVID vaccines, has helped Rejuvenation attract top talent and grant funding, to support their rapid progress,” said Alex Morgan, Partner, Khosla Ventures. “It is possible that telomere extension may have a similarly broad impact on the body's molecular aging clocks with positive impact on multiple disease areas. We are excited to continue working together as Rejuvenation advances its technology platform, partnership discussions, and internal pipeline towards clinical trials.”
About Rejuvenation Technologies
Rejuvenation Technologies is a biotechnology company developing mRNA therapies to extend the healthspan by preventing and treating chronic age-related diseases. Their vision is to treat everyone, starting with a pipeline of therapies that target fatal diseases, including of the liver and lung. Co-founders John Ramunas and Glenn Markov developed fundamental technology at Stanford University in the lab of Helen Blau, on telomere extension and epigenetic reprogramming, and innovated further at Rejuvenation. Rejuvenation’s mission is to extend the human healthspan. To learn more, visit www.rejuvenationtech.com and engage with us on LinkedIn.