No Fountain of Youth has ever been discovered despite centuries of searching. Furthermore, despite centuries of medical advances that have dramatically increased human life expectancy, the ravages of aging have remained intractable. Advancing years is still the single largest risk factor in many of the most punishing disorders including cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Retro Biosciences wants to rewrite this narrative. Through the development of new therapies that specifically target age-driven disorders, and ultimately prevent rather than treat such disorders, we aim to extend not just the human lifespan but the human healthspan as well, transforming the standard of care, ability to contribute economically, and potential for humans to achieve more.
To imagine and deliver such a future takes a unique group, and I have spent the last two years scouting the world for the leading experts. Together, we have blueprinted the most daring approaches and built a diverse, international team of pioneering scientists, technologists, innovators, and entrepreneurs to execute. Everything we have done in each of our careers has led to this unique collaboration and the moonshot chance to improve the livesfe of millions.
My journey reflects that passion and need to solve the most complicated technical and societal problems. While an undergraduate at Harvard, I contributed to the study of Earth’s long-term oxygen regulation by quantifying the burial efficiency of organic carbon over hundreds of millions of years. After receiving my B.A. in 1990, I joined the technical staff at IBM Almaden Research Center where I worked on novel human-computer interfaces. I followed this by serving as the CTO of Analog Design, where I led the development of electronic systems in support of industrial research and manufacturing process control. In 2000, I founded and became the CTO at OQO, a computer hardware company that specialized in the manufacturing of handheld computers. According to Guinness World Records, the “OQO” was the world’s smallest full-powered, full-featured personal computer in 2005.
My interests gradually shifted towards the improvement of medicine and in 2010, I joined the startup Halcyon Molecular and led its automation efforts. The goal was to sequence human DNA using electron microscopes in an effort to improve our understanding of biology and medicine. In 2012, I founded the Health Extension Foundation, a non-profit for promoting biomedical research to prevent age-related diseases.
By 2013, I had co-founded Vium and raised the level of financing required to accelerate the development of new medical therapies by automating in-vivo research. When I co-founded Vium, there was no dramatic anti-aging science ready for translation into humans and when I sold Vium in 2020 and surveyed the territory, I saw there had been some jaw-dropping developments.
These “jaw-dropping developments” in anti-aging science began with the discovery that cellular senescence, the process by which cells permanently stop dividing, is not irreversible. Cellular senescence is responsible for many age-related disorders, but through “reprogramming,” this process can be stopped and possibly even reversed, opening possibilities for the repair and rejuvenation of aging cells and tissue. Much more research needs to be done, however, before the biological time-clock at the cellular and tissue levels can be safely reversed or set back.
At Retro Biosciences we are concentrating on finding in vivo evidence that cellular reprogramming and partial reprogramming can safely rejuvenate tissues. We’re also exploring ways in which rejuvenated cells or tissue can be used to cure a disease. We already have discovered a molecule we will soon take into the clinic in our autophagy program. We have also started our first clinical intervention in our blood plasma program and will continue to do in vivo and human studies side-by-side over the next few years.
We believe that people are the highest good and protecting human life is therefore one of the best ways of serving. We want to maximize human health and increase the years of healthy life for individuals, but it isn’t enough to do this for the few rich nations. To truly maximize human health we have to make sure our therapies can be shared with the world. It is on the shoulders of the wealthy nations to develop therapies that require deep R&D, and ultimately making these medicines available and affordable for everyone.
In recent months a number of prominent and heavily funded startups dedicated to anti-aging science have sprung up, but many of the leading lights in aging biology are supporting Retro Biosciences out of belief in our technology, leadership and company values.
We know such a challenging mission can’t be done alone, so we have raised $180MM and have recruited a braintrust of industry titans that understand what is at stake and are backing Retro’s approach: name, name, name.