Greatly extending human life expectancy is considered a landmark achievement for modern society. Most babies born in 1900 did not reach their sixties. Today, though, life expectancy at birth now exceeds 81 years in several first world countries. Despite advances in health care, and regardless of race, religion, or social status, everyone ages. With this increased lifespan also came a universal obsession with staying young and healthy. While innovations in anti-aging make headlines in the battle against wrinkles and receding hairlines, modern advancements in the field of age research, which are getting significant attention with recent scientific discoveries, begin at the genetic level.
More than the aesthetic manifestations of getting older, aging takes a real toll on the body, inside and out. Age-related diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer can not only shorten one’s lifespan, but these diseases also greatly reduce the quality of the remaining years. Furthermore, these diseases can be a major financial drain for families caring for the sick and elderly, and are an enormous and growing burden on our healthcare system and our federal budget. CohBar, Inc. (OTCQX: CWBR and TSXV: COB.U), an innovative biotechnology company, is tackling the effects of aging with the goal to improve the quality of those aging years by targeting major age-related diseases, and, in doing so, possibly extending lifespan with additional healthy years.
Discovering the Centenarian Secret: Why do some people live to over 100 years old and are not burdened with major disease?
Dr. Nir Barzilai, Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Dr. Pinchas Cohen, the Dean of the Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California founded CohBar in 2009. Together, they discovered additional genes found in mitochondria (the power source in the cell) that encode certain peptides that have been found to be protective in animal studies against various age-related diseases.
“Dr. Barzilai has been doing research with more than 600 centenarians for the past 10 years,” said Jon Stern, CEO of CohBar. “As a world renowned scientist in the fields of aging, metabolism and diseases of aging, he's been studying their genetic makeup, their proclivity for disease, and their individual lifestyles to fully understand what is unique among these centenarians that allows them to avoid major age-related diseases and to live long, healthy and productive lives”.
As part of Dr. Barzilai’s research, he investigated lifestyle habits. Surprisingly, various participants in their nineties revealed that they were drinkers, smokers, had poor eating habits, and engaged in little to no exercise. What Dr. Barzilai and Dr. Cohen discovered was that high levels of a particular peptide encoded in the genetic makeup of their mitochondria, called Humanin, were found in the centenarians and their offspring. In further studies by the CohBar founders, this mitochondrial derived peptide (MDP) displayed protective effects in various animal disease models, including Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.
This breakthrough discovery of Humanin spurred further research by the CohBar founders, supported by NIH and NIA grant funding totaling over $30 million to their academic labs. Drs. Barzilai and Cohen’s research led to the discovery of dozens of additional genes and peptides with the potential to treat various age-related diseases. CohBar has licensed exclusive rights to the founders’ discoveries, which now form a pipeline of potential therapeutic candidates including MOTS-c, an MDP discovered in 2012 that has shown to play a significant role in metabolic regulation with therapeutic potential for Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. Other MDPs discovered by the CohBar founders include SHLP-2 and SHLP-6, which have demonstrated potential in animal models as possible treatments for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Cohbar Team and Potential Value of Quality of Life
Together with the Drs. Barzilai and Cohen, CohBar is supported by a scientific dream team with decades of experience and success in the arenas of aging research, genetics, and drug discovery and development. Co-founder Dr. John Amatruda has had a long and very successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Amatruda was previously Senior Vice President and Franchise Head at Merck, where he brought Januvia, Merck’s leading diabetes drug with nearly $6B in annual sales, to the market. Co-Founder Dr. David Sinclair is an esteemed professor of genetics at Harvard, a co-founder of OvaScience and a founder of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company acquired by GSK for nearly three quarters of a billion dollars. CohBar Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) Dr. Ken Cundy, formerly CSO at Xenoport, joined the CohBar science team last year, bringing with him vast drug development and commercialization experience.
Going forward, CohBar’s mission is to advance the development of mitochondrial derived peptides into clinically relevant and commercially successful mitochondria-based therapeutics to treat major diseases of aging and extend healthy lifespan. The company’s exclusive licenses include rights to four different families of peptides that have been discovered by the founding team. “Our goal is to advance the development of the licensed peptides, along with the new peptides that CohBar is discovering. For future clinical trials, we’ll be selecting the most promising peptides that demonstrate major therapeutic pre-clinical benefits and target the very large unmet medical needs and market opportunities of these age-related diseases” said Jon Stern
A few years ago, Fortune magazine estimated that a drug that helps prevent age-related diseases could be worth $25 billion annually. This figure would be groundbreaking for the medical and biology sectors. “We see great opportunity and promise in the mitochondria-based therapeutics that we're developing,” said Stern. “We’ve already received a number of inquiries from major pharmaceutical companies that are very interested in this space and want to talk to us about these developing therapeutics.”
The Age of Aging – Featuring Dr. Barzilai, CohBar Founder
Dr. Barzilai’s breakthrough aging research has not only captured the attention of the medical world, but has captured the attention of an A-list Hollywood director and an internationally respected media outlet for educational content. Dr. Barzilai and his work in aging were recently highlighted in National Geographic’s new docu-series, Breakthrough. Produced by film director Ron Howard, Breakthrough covered various major developments and breakthroughs in the scientific community. Howard directed the episode, The Age of Aging, which focuses on the developing science of aging and the research of Dr. Barzilai.
Currently, Dr. Barzilai and his scientific collaborators aim to persuade the FDA to approve a proposed anti-aging clinical trial (the TAME Study) of an already approved drug called Metformin. “They’re going to be looking at Metformin, a drug that potentially treats multiple age related diseases and in certain ways is similar to some of the MDP’s that were developing,” said Stern. If the study is successful, it will certainly be a monumental breakthrough, and there will be even greater interest and investment from pharmaceutical companies in treatments for age-related disease and healthy aging therapeutics.
Through the potential positive yield of social, health, and financial improvements, the advancement of CohBar’s platform of MDPs into successful therapeutics could have a significant impact on age-related medicine and pharmaceuticals, as well as upon the overall progression of aging itself. “Our peptides have shown promise in animal models against multiple diseases,” said Stern. “If we're able to treat or protect against those diseases in humans, then indeed, people will be able to live longer, healthier lives.”
For more information about CohBar, visit www.cohbar.com.
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