Additional Funding for Unity’s First Human Clinical Study

Unity is testing its anti-aging technology to remove non-dividing, senescent cells.

San Francisco-based Unity Biotechnology completed an additional round of funding to support its move into human clinical trials. The company is focused on the development of drugs that potentially halt, slow or reverse age-associated diseases such as arthritis, vision loss, and cognitive decline, while restoring human health.

The technology being developed by Unity involves the elimination of accumulated senescent cells, cells that are associated with aging, tissue dysfunction and promotion of disease. These cells no longer divide, typically due to exposure to some form of biologic stress. Their accumulation is considered a key indication of aging and disease and leads to inflammation, tissue degradation and the production of growth factors that alter the tissue microenvironment, leading to disease, according to Unity.

The drugs under development by Unity include small-molecule therapies called senolytic medicines that are designed to eliminate senescent cells. Initial disease targets include osteoarthritis, ophthalmology and pulmonary disease. The lead candidate is UBX0101, an inhibitor of MDM2/p53 protein interaction, disruption of which can trigger the elimination of senescent cells, according to Unity. The company plans to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the Food and Drug Administration in 2018.

To find its first human clinical trial with UBX0101, Unity recently conducted a C round of funding, raising $55 million. Total investment in the company is now $217 million, some of which was contributed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

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Nigel Walker

Mr. Walker is the founder and managing director of That’s Nice LLC, a research-driven marketing agency with 20 years dedicated to life sciences. Nigel harnesses the strategic capabilities of Nice Insight, the research arm of That’s Nice, to help companies communicate science-based visions to grow their businesses. Mr. Walker earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design with honors from London College.