Singapore – Biotech startup Gero has raised $2.2 million in a series A funding led by Bulba Ventures. Gero is harnessing the converging power of big biomedical data and AI to produce definitive therapeutic solutions for the most complex diseases and aging itself.
The company is developing new drugs for aging and other complicated disorders using its proprietary developed artificial intelligence (AI) platform. This brings Gero’s funding to over $7.5 million.
The longevity economy
Why is this story so interesting? Artificial Intelligence led solutions are attracting more interest as are companies focused on life extension. According to CB Insights experts, in 2018, startups engaged with the problems of life span extension have raised almost $800M. In 2016, researchers from U.S. non-profits Oxford Economics and AARP published a report titled The Longevity Economy, where they estimated the volume of the U.S. longevity market alone at $7.1T. They forecast that by 2032 this figure will almost double to $13.5T.
AI based platform
The funding round was led by Bulba Ventures with participation from previous investors and serial entrepreneurs in the fields of pharmaceuticals, IT, and AI. The co-founder of Bulba Ventures Yury Melnichek joined Gero’s Board of Directors.
Gero will utilize this investment to further develop its AI-based platform for analyzing clinical and genetic data to identify treatments for some of the most complicated diseases. These include chronic aging-related diseases, mental disorders, and others.
Search for cures
“Gero’s insights and know-how when it comes to using big data and machine learning in biology is creating new opportunities in the search for cures for diseases that were previously considered incurable, primarily for aging,” added Yury Melnichek, co-founder of Bulba Ventures, a successful venture capital investor in the field of machine learning and AI.
The potential of Gero’s technology has already been demonstrated in finding solutions for especially complicated conditions such as aging. Gero’s experts used large datasets of medical and genetic information from hundreds of thousands of people acquired via biobanks. The company has created a proprietary database of blood samples collected throughout the last 15 years of the patients’ lives.
Using this data, the Gero.ai platform determined the protein that circulates in people’s blood whose removal or blockage should lead to rejuvenation. Subsequent experiments at the National University of Singapore involved aged animals and demonstrated mortality delay (life-extension) and functional improvements after a single experimental treatment. In the future, this new drug could enable patients to recover after a stroke. It could also help cancer patients in their fight against accelerated aging resulting from chemotherapy.
For Gero, aging is a natural part and the “last mile” of human development program. The company pioneers ways to understand, measure and, ultimately, control its progression.
Aging is a dynamic process
“We view aging as a dynamic process and employ big data from biobanks and large medical studies. The combination of analytical approaches originating from the dynamical systems theory and physics of complex systems yields predictive models of aging for biomarkers of aging discovery. Ultimately, GERO-dynamics principles can be used to suggest and efficiently test state-of-the-art therapies aimed at the aging process itself.”
Gero aims to help accelerate drug discovery
Gero founder Peter Fedichev said, “We are happy with the recognition and support from these strategic investors who themselves are acknowledged leaders in the fields of AI and biotechnology. This will help us attain the necessary knowledge at the junction of biological sciences and AI/ML technologies that is necessary for the radical acceleration of drug discovery battling the toughest medical challenges of the 21st century. We hope that the technology will soon lead to a meaningful healthspan extension and quality of life improvements,”
COVID-19 and AI
The platform developed by Gero is currently also being utilized to develop drugs in other areas: for example, the group’s efforts to find potential therapies for COVID-19, including those that could reduce mortality from complications related to aging, has already attracted a great deal of attention from large pharmaceutical companies and leading global media organizations.
“Gero collects large datasets of biomedical data (including clinical histories and genomics) of animals and humans and applies advanced machine learning methods and AI to discover the underlying reasons for human aging.”
“The project’s team works with key experts in the field of biology of aging and clinical medicine, and this provides answers to the most important practical questions and translates the received knowledge into medical technologies to combat aging”, says Dr. Nir Barzilai, Director and leading aging researcher of the Einstein-Institute for Aging Research; Professor of Medicine and Genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Gero is a group of companies that develops new drugs to treat complicated disorders using artificial intelligence and physics of complex dynamic systems to analyze big datasets of biomedical data.
Gero collaborates with researchers from leading global institutions. These include Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Edinburgh, National University of Singapore, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center to develop new therapies. The company is a regular contributor to peer-reviewed journals. Gero’s AI platform is currently in use to develop new therapies, reposition existing drugs, forecast chronic toxicity and for clinical decision support.
In 2019, Gero was also named as one of the leading companies in the field of artificial intelligence for lifespan extension.
About Bulba Ventures
Bulba Ventures is a Belarus-based investment company focusing on machine learning startups. Founded in 2018 by Yury Melnichek and Andrei Avsievich, Bulba’s portfolio includes startups operating in precision farming, wellness, entertainment and biotech. Yury’s former computer vision startup AIMATTER was acquired by Google in 2017.
We Speak To The Gero Founder and CEO
We spoke to Gero Founder and CEO Gero Decker. The interview touched on Gero’s journey to further develop its AI-based platform for analyzing clinical and genetic data. This data will be used to identify treatments for chronic aging-related diseases, mental disorders, and others.