Startup Unity Biotechnology Raises $116m from Jeff Bezos and Mayo Clinic

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Unity Biotechnology raised $116 million in Series B financing. The financing round included Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Mayo Clinic. The company, a biotechnology firm, deals primarily with anti-aging medicines. The company’s goal is to help slow aging and age-related diseases.

The startup is working on medicines that will help the body get rid of old cells that are linked to aging and inflammation.

Senescent cells, or the cells which have stopped dividing, have been shown to accumulate in areas where age-related diseases occur. Diseased hearts, eyes and joints have a higher accumulation of Senescent cells.

Removing these cells is the company’s goal with the hope that many of these diseases will be avoided as a result.

Numerous companies invested in Unity Biotechnology during the funding round, including: WuXi Pharmaceuticals, Venrock, ARCH Venture Capital, and Baillie Gifford, a Scottish mutual fund. The company also announced that they’ll be placing current CEO Nathaniel David as the company’s president and replacing him with Keith Leonard.

Leonard is the former CEO of KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals. The company was founded by Leonard and David, and sold to Allergan in 2015 in a $21 billion deal.

David, the company’s president and former CEO, stated that the company’s goal is to have an extended average lifespan be the norm. The company hopes that age-related eye diseases and osteoarthritis are only things that people read about in books.

A study by two of the company’s cofounders was released on Thursday in Science. The report follows the company’s study into how senescent cells cause plaque formation that narrows the arteries, which increases the risk of strokes and heart attack.

The reduction of these cells led to the reduction of plaque in mice. Pieces of plaque were less likely to break off, too, which is a major contributor to blocked blood vessels.

Human trials will begin in as little as 12 months and will focus on macular degeneration, eye disease and osteoarthritis.