Anti Aging Conference - October, 2004
Summary Report on Saturday, October 30, 2004 Anti-Aging Conference 8:00 AM Plenary Session: “Financing Anti-Aging Research”.
The session consisted of presentations from:
David Kekich, Session Chair, Maximum Life Foundation Owner, www.Transvio.com - Introduction to Financing Anti-Aging Research
Mr. Kekich introduced the concept of the possibilities of extreme life extension in absence of aging and aging related diseases. He discussed the economic and social benefits to controlling the aging process as well as how the funds might be raised to fund the “scientific roadmaps” already developed by anti-aging researchers as an outcome of three anti-aging scientific conferences sponsored by the Maximum Life Foundation.
He illustrated the current investment and funding climate for Anti-Aging research, including the barriers to raising significant funding and how we plan to initiate ways to overcome these challenges. The Maximum Life Foundation’s plan called “The Manhattan Beach Project” found its roots in June, 2000 in Manhattan Beach, Calif. At the initial scientific brainstorm session designed to develop a scientific roadmap to “cure” aging.
To fund the research, Mr. Kekich proposed establishing an endowment fund. The fund would aggregate “depositors” funds. All deposits would be refundable. They would pay above-market dividends or interest rates... and would be managed to protect them from asset erosion while earning enough income over-and-above the dividend payments to fund early-stage companies doing life extension research and product and service development. Mr. Kekich felt this would help satisfy depositors concerns about risk as well as providing them with early steady returns as well as potential capital gains on the investments the endowment fund would make.
He pointed out that this would be a win/win strategy benefiting everyone: depositors; endowment fund managers; venture fund managers; entrepreneurs; investment bankers and local, state and federal governments.
J.M. Salgado, Founder, Project Life - Project LIFE: A Comprehensive Global Approach to Anti-Aging Funding & Research
Mr. Salgado’s presentation described how his Project LIFE is a multi-disciplinary, multi-national, multi-billion dollar project with one specific goal: to find a way to intervene in and reverse the aging process in adult humans in order to be able to surpass excessively our current 122-year maximum life expectancy.
He feels we can accomplish this in many of our lifetimes, but the cost will be in the billions of dollars per year. J.M. believes neither the government nor corporate America will be up to the task if we want a solution in time to impact many of our lives. He believes the only way we’ll be able to accomplish this will be to mobilize wealthy individuals who are interested in their own health and longevity as well as in good investments.
J.M.’s presentation focused on an aggressive campaign to acquire pledges for private investments from that core of wealthy individuals who are sold on personal longevity. This ambitious project is designed to raise several billion dollars initially. Only when enough funds to pay for the research are raised will the pledges be called. Mr. Salgado also outlined the necessary steps to launch such a large and unprecedented scientific endeavor. They are:
Phase 3: Contracts Sign-up campaign
David Gobel, Chairman/Co-Founder/CEO, The Methuselah Foundation - The Methuselah Mouse Prize Competition: Benefits for Future Clinical Use
Mr. Gobel discussed how the Methuselah Mouse Prize will encourage and accelerate longevity research. The Methuselah Foundation is offering prizes for specific achievements in advancements in the healthy lifespan of both newborn and aged mice. The series of prizes will grow to include even more ambitious life extension competitions as progress is achieved. The Methuselah Mouse Prize is designed to change the current research agenda, where there might be satisfaction with making small steps, forward to a broader perspective, explicit long-term vision, and methods to spark the participation, competition, investment and approaches for what may be achieved. Then, by drawing attention to researchers and the mice that have successfully turned back the clock, the Prize will increase public hope, enthusiasm and funding for such research.
He described how the value of prizes are gravitationally powerful and self accelerating, the faster the prize fund grows the more powerful the attraction of the prize, and the more folks who take it seriously who then want to help it go even faster. With the help – not only of the wealthy - but of normal citizens who can benefit, the prize growth will continue to accelerate.
Donors can pledge $25,000 each within 25 years. It can be paid at once or over time with as little as $85 per month. Mr. Gobel stressed that every dime received goes to the Prize Fund until won.
Recent experience of the Darpa Grand Challenge is that for every dollar in the prize, the competitors invested 65 dollars to compete and try to win.
On June 8th, 2003, the inaugural Methuselah Prize was awarded to Dr. Andrzej Bartke for the "Methuselah Mouse" that lived the equivalent of 180 human years. Since June, the Foundation has attracted in excess of ? Million dollars toward funding the prize – and has attracted world class competitors to the lists as well as millions of media impressions with much more to come.
Mr. Gobel announce upcoming for November, the Rejuvenation Prize for the scientifically repeatable experiment that results in significant life extension in middle aged mice and reversal of damage from aging.
Huber Warner, Ph.D., Associate Director, National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of Health - Genomics and Longevity
Dr. Warner’s lecture discussed the advances in genomics, cell biology, stem cell biology and nanotechnology.
He reported the Fiscal Year 2004 budget of the NIA was just over $1 billion. Of this about 85% was available for funding extramural research grants, and about 18% of this, or about $150 million was managed by the Biology of Aging Program (BAP). BAP includes portfolios in Genetics, Cell Biology, Metabolism, Immunology, Physiology, Endocrinology, Musculoskeletal Biology and Cardiovascular Biology, and in a broad sense, all of this research has implications for anti-aging therapeutics. Nevertheless, BAP has launched three initiatives in the last 20 years with more direct relevance to the development of strategies to delay aging and the onset of age- related disability. These include Biomarkers of Aging (1988 – 1998), and two ongoing initiatives on Identification of Longevity Assurance Genes (1993 - ?), and an Intervention Testing Program (2003 - ?). Dr. Warner focused on these 3 initiatives and how they may relate to future development of anti-aging therapeutics.
He said even though the U.S. National Institute on Aging has spent more than $9.4 billion since 1974, but has yet to turn any medical intervention into a meaningful application to combat the degenerative disease of aging, he listed 11 portfolio areas of funding where significant progress has been made.
Two of the indirect approaches were identification of biomarkers (1988 – 1998) and identification of Longevity Assurance Genes (1993 - ?) and one direct approach, an Intervention Testing Program ( 2003 - ?).
From 1988 – 1998, at a total cost of about $20 million resulted in a definitive panel of biomarkers of aging in rodents that was not achieved. One objective for developing biomarkers of aging would be their value in testing dietary and pharmacological interventions to retard aging. New approaches are needed e.g. gene expression microarrays, proteomics and imaging.
Dr. Warner then described an NIA Aging Intervention Testing Program.
Bard Geesaman, M.D., Vice President, Elixir Pharmaceuticals Director, F2 Venture Capital - Financing Anti-Aging Research with Biotech
Over the past decade Dr. Geesaman has been associated with two of a handful of biotech companies with discovery platforms initially focused on aging research. The best funded of these include Geron, Centagenetix, and Elixir Pharmaceuticals. He elaborated on his experience with the latter two.
He discussed the enormous markets for validated anti-aging technology and the insurmountable regulatory hurdles for getting drugs approved that claim to extend lifespan. Additionally, he said disease prevention claims are much more difficult to achieve than indications for disease treatment. Successful funding and value creation within such biotech companies requires recognition of these challenges and very strategic approaches for achieving financing milestones.
Then he presented a case study of the two companies he has experience with.
The first, Centagenetix was founded in the spring of 2000. Their focus was on the human genetics (centenarian DNA) target discovery platform. He described their original business model which was to derive revenue from identifying anti-aging molecular targets for big pharma. They were able to raise $8M of venture capital.
Elixir Pharmaceuticals, also founded in the spring of 2000 modeled long-lived organisms developed in labs of founders. They built a dominant IP portfolio around anti-aging biology. They too were successful raising venture capital having raised a total of $13.3M.
But less than three years later, the venture capital industry took a turn for the worse. Both companies were met with skepticism, especially related to the anti-aging industry. So in February 2003, the companies merged, changed their strategies and raised $41M.
They recruited pharmaceutical industry giants to help remold their direction and developed specific focus in diabetes and obesity. Now they’re in the process of spinning out much of the anti-aging platform into a new company, NutraCent, an anti-aging nutraceutical company.
Dr. Geesaman said the important lessons learned were:
Mark Patterson, CEO, Mastery Matrix, Big Picture Tours & Ads -
Mark was unable to attend due to a medical emergency, but Mr. Kekich presented part of his proposal.
He plans on funding a massive, Manhattan-style effort to end and reverse human aging through a creative partnership between extremely wealthy individuals and a relatively small, 2nd Tier Economic Power World Government. The characteristics of this partnership are as follows:
The project will be PRIMED by an initial commitment of $6 billion dollars--$3 billion invested by wealthy individuals leveraged by $3 billion in matching government commitments. The partnership will include only one government to avoid being bogged down by endless rounds of planning and negotiations between the supporting nations. The project must be ENORMOUSLY attractive to this government. This will only be the case for countries that will experience transforming positive benefits on a national scale. A country that is currently spending a very small percentage of it’s GDP on biomedical research could be rapidly propelled to the forefront of biomedical research by an infusion of $3 billion in private investment and an influx of the world’s leading scientific expertise.
The government will commit to providing $3 billion over a 15-year term. The funding commitments over 15 years would be offset by revenue growth from supporting industries and infrastructure.
In exchange for winning sponsorship of this project, the government would agree to provide a research and commercial development haven, free of taxes, artificial political obstacles, and excessive regulatory burdens. Once the commitment for matching government funds is in place, $3 billion in investments from very wealthy private investors will be raised.
This massive effort will be organized in three synergistic entities:
Investors will have their funds leveraged by 1) matching government funding, 2) a tax free window for both the Methuselah Clinic and Methuselah Technologies, 3) economies of scale that will dwarf the high cost structure found at most Universities and research centers.
Each speaker participated in a one hour panel discussion followed by questions from the audience for 30 minutes. The session was devoted to problem solving… how to fund anti-aging science research. Some of the topics and questions presented to panel members were: