Karl Pfleger, Agingbiotech.info | Longevity Investor Q&A

Karl is a prolific angel investor of longevity companies and manages the agingbiotech.info website.  Here he shares his insights into the longevity landscape.


Key Takeaways:

  • There’s been a recent resurgence of investment in longevity
  • Because aging is not categorized as a disease, most aging companies are targeting conservative clinical markers
  • An interesting information problem for the field is to map out aging related diseases and clinically relevant biomarkers
  • A lack of clinical trials does not seem to deter interest in neutraceuticals
  • Agingbiotech.info has a comprehensive list of companies in the aging/longevity space, and was built as a way to onboard people into the aging sector and aggregate information for investors
  • OnDeck Longevity fellowship is also a good way of onboarding into the longevity space
  • A group is forming to help maintain the site and do controlled updates
  • An enthusiasm “winter” isn’t as much of a risk now that so much money has poured into the field in the last couple years.  Unity and ResTORbio both failed and yet it hasn’t affected the longevity space very much.
  • Karl invests in both short term and long term projects, although he stays away from neutraceuticals because they are already getting a lot of investment dollars.  He exclusively invests in longevity biotech startups.
  • Drugs that mimic lifestyle changes probably would wind up convincing people to change their lifestyle rather than take the drug
  • The difference between longevity and standard healthcare is that longevity is preventative while healthcare is reactive
  • He is interested in investing in things that extend healthy lives, not just those that increase the lives of diseased organisms
  • It’s uncommon for a company to run a lifespan study on mice, which creates a lot of risk until reliable biomarkers can be found as a proxy for lifespan studies
  • It’s expensive to grow aged mice for studies
  • Hitting multiple biomarkers associated with aging creates higher value for a company, but does not help with regulatory approval
  • It’s very difficult to pioneer new model organisms for longevity, no companies appear to be trying new primate animal models
  • Mice seem to be working well for the National Institute of Aging
  • The trend in recent decades toward more expensive drugs is caused by smaller patient numbers for the drugs, but a drug affecting aging has an extremely large patient pool and so the expense would be spread over a much larger population resulting in theoretically low prices