"I grabbed a pile of dust and, holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust. I forgot to ask that they be years of youth."
The desire to prolong life has existed for centuries: from finding the Holy Grail to searching for the Fountain of Youth to the start-up, Ambrosia, focusing on teen blood transfusions. No one has yet been able to open the door to youthful, vigorous, immortality. However, a rising biotech start-up is taking a huge step forward in this space by targeting a disease that kills one in every four Americans: heart disease. We are excited to announce our investment in Repair Biotechnologies, a company that uses novel approaches to address age-related diseases. It's first target is atherosclerosis. This condition is the leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, and vascular heart disease, making it the #1 cause of death and disability in the developed world.
As “bad” cholesterol builds up in arteries over time, immune cells, called macrophages, arrive, intending to fix the problem. However, elevated levels of cholesterol cause macrophages to malfunction, leading to more inflammation and the buildup of plaque: a conglomerate of cholesterol, fatty substances, cellular waste, and clotting material from blood. This build-up narrows the blood vessels, limiting blood flow, the delivery of nutrients, and the availability of oxygen to affected parts of the body. This process leads to conditions, such as coronary heart disease, angina, chronic kidney disease, and more. The plaque also produces unstable blood clots that can become dislodged, blocking blood flow to vital organs and causing a heart attack or stroke.
By the age of 40, research has shown that there is a 50% chance you already have atherosclerotic lesions large enough to be detected by scanning technologies. However, even if you are able to identify and locate these lesions, current treatments can’t reverse existing damage. When you are diagnosed with atherosclerosis, you’ll likely receive prescribed medication that lowers bad cholesterol levels to prevent further plaque build-up. But, this does nothing to remove existing plaques that still pose a significant health risk.
Publishing in the leading scientific journal, Nature, Repair identified a way to actually destroy plaque build-up, instead of simply preventing further damage. Repair’s technology introduces an enzyme that enables macrophages to break down cholesterol, reversing the plaque build-up process. Tests on animal models have found the treatment to be effective in reducing cholesterol by 40% to 50%, without significant negative side effects. If successful, Repair Biotechnologies will market the first therapeutic to meaningfully reverse atherosclerosis, offering a significant investment opportunity as well. With Americans spending over $220 billion each year combating heart disease, there is no doubt that this is an important disease to address.
However, Repair doesn’t plan to stop at atherosclerosis. When you take a look at many age-related diseases, the source of the disease stems from the accumulation of damage to cells or cellular processes. A substantial part of aging results from normal processes, naturally causing wear and tear in our bodies. Repair seeks to target the damage and leverage technological advances to reverse this damage. Most current approaches merely seek to slow the rate of future damage. Once this damage is reversed, diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, and more, can also be reversed.
Age-related diseases are a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Repair has the opportunity to become a dominant player in this space. By applying its proprietary restorative approach to other age-related diseases, Repair Biotechnologies can cure diseases that were previously only managed and deemed inevitable. This technology holds the very real promise of helping everyone alive today to lead longer lives without significant impairment.