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Ichor Therapeutics, a life science company in Lafayette, New York, is one of the big players in the world of rejuvenation biotechnologies. Since its founding in 2013, it has been growing and expanding its portfolio of companies working on therapies against the diseases of aging; on August 1, 2018, Ichor announced the formation of its strategic fund, Grapeseed.bio.

What is Grapeseed.bio

This new fund and accelerator program is meant to provide young life science startups with seed funding up to $100,000, technical training, mentorship, and full access to Ichor’s large research laboratory.

“CenterState CEO and the City of Syracuse have done a great job in establishing initiatives to support entrepreneurship and innovation,” stated Kelsey Moody, CEO of Ichor Therapeutics and Managing Partner of Grapeseed.bio. “Direct funding vehicles like Grants for Growth and the TC Growth Fund, combined with mentors and a physical facility at the Tech Garden, have cultivated many promising companies in the software and tech sectors. We want to do the same in the life sciences.”

Grapeseed.bio has already raised funds for several rejuvenation biotech companies: $12.7 million for Antoxerene, $500,000 for Repair Biotechnologies, $300,000 for RecombiPure, and $700,000 for LysoCLEAR. These companies focus their efforts on senolytics, gene therapy, protein expression, enzyme therapy, and other cutting-edge treatments for age-related pathologies. LysoCLEAR was the first company in Ichor’s portfolio, and it is working on a cure for the dry form of age-related macular degeneration by following the LysoSENS repair approach put forward by SENS Research Foundation. Funds for Auctus Biologics, a company developing an antibody mimetic scaffold for clinical and diagnostic applications, are currently being raised.

“An accelerator program offers a platform for us to evaluate both people and projects, while at the same supporting entrepreneurship and economic development in the region,” Moody said. “In the life sciences, projects fail, and they fail more often than not. If all we achieve here is a tool for recruiting gritty, self-driven scientists into our company, that is a good use of our capital. However, I have a feeling we are going to find much more than that.”

Why this is a big deal

What most biogerontologists and biotechnologists lament is that lack of funding is slowing down the pace of research. Luckily, funds for research against aging have been increasing lately somewhat, whether in the form of philanthropic donations or thanks to initiatives such as Grapeseed.bio, the Methuselah Fund, or Juvenescence Limited.

However, there is still a lot of research to be done before we can declare victory over aging, so while it’s great to see an increase in capital invested in this exciting new field of medicine, more investment will be needed. Ichor Therapeutics is making important contributions to the industry with senolytics, stem cell research, drug discovery, lifespan studies, and now also strategic funding; we wish this company to be even more successful and hope that many other companies will follow its lead.

About the author

Nicola Bagalà

Nicola is a bit of a jack of all trades—a holder of an M.Sc. in mathematics; an amateur programmer; a hobbyist at novel writing, piano and art; and, of course, a passionate life extensionist. After his interest in the science of undoing aging arose in 2011, he gradually shifted from quiet supporter to active advocate in 2015, first launching his advocacy blog Rejuvenaction before eventually joining LEAF. These years in the field sparked an interest in molecular biology, which he actively studies. Other subjects he loves to discuss to no end are cosmology, artificial intelligence, and many others—far too many for a currently normal lifespan, which is one of the reasons he’s into life extension.
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