Unity Biotech Files IPO to Bring Anti-Aging Drugs into Clinical Trials

Xconomy San Francisco — 

[Corrected 4/6/18, 12:32 p.m. EDT. See below.] Three weeks after Unity Biotechnology raised $55 million in financing to bring its osteoarthritis drug candidate into human testing, the anti-aging biotechnology company is now laying out plans for an initial public stock offering.

San Francisco-based Unity set a preliminary $85 million target for its IPO. The company has applied for a listing on the Nasdaq exchange under the stock symbol “UBX.”

Aging is governed by multiple biological and cellular processes, Unity says in its filing. At the root of some of these processes are senescent cells—dormant cells that continue to secrete proteins. Those proteins, the company says, set off activity that age tissue or cause disease. Unity aims to stop this process, and the age-related diseases that it causes, by targeting the dormant cells. In preclinical research that has been published in Nature and Science, Unity says eliminating the senescent cells extended the health and lifespan of animals.

Unity now aims to show that its approach can work in humans. The company says it will use proceeds from the IPO to support two drugs, UBX0101, for osteoarthritis, and UBX1967, an experimental treatment for eye diseases. In the filing, Unity says it submitted the regulatory paperwork in March to begin clinical testing of the osteoarthritis drug. The company expects to start a Phase 1 study testing the small molecule drug later this quarter.

Clinical testing of the eye drug is expected to start in the second half of 2019. Unity did not disclose the specific disease target for that drug, though the filing shows that the company’s pipeline includes preclinical compounds for diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.

Unity is led by co-founder and president Nathaniel “Ned” David (pictured), who previously founded four biotech companies, and CEO Keith Leonard, former chief executive of Kythera Biopharmaceuticals. Unity spent $37.3 million on research and development in 2017. By the end of last year, Unity has spent its cash reserves down to just to $7.2 million, though it also reported $84.3 million in marketable securities, according to the filing. Including the $55 million Series C round of financing last month, the company says it has raised $217 million in total financing. [Paragraph updated to correct David’s title, add Leonard’s position, and clarify Unity’s finances.]

Here’s more on the origins of Unity and its approach to anti-aging drug development.