NewLimit, a startup that aspires to reverse aging by manipulating cells, announced on Tuesday that it's raised $40 million in a Series A round from Kleiner Perkins and other venture firms, and from prominent individuals like former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Y Combinator CEO Garry Tan.
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The startup launched in late 2021 with the backing of Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong, who sold 2% of his holdings in the crypto company to invest an initial $110 million in the new venture alongside geneticist Blake Byers. The pair are two of four NewLimit cofounders.
While NewLimit's mission to "cure aging" sounds akin to a modern day quest to find the mythical Fountain of Younth, recent breakthroughs in epigenetics—the study of environments' impact on genes—means the project is not as fanciful as it sounds.
According to the NewLimit founders, the startup is exploring how to manipulate genes so cells that have flipped from young to old, which occurs as part of the aging cycle, flip back again, causing the body to display youthful traits. In an interview with Fortune, they explained that scientists know how to change a cell's type—such as instructing a brain cell to behave like a blood cell—but not its age.
Armstrong declined to make specific predictions about how many years this sort of research might extend human life, instead emphasizing that NewLimit's focus is on "health span" not "life span"—the goal is more quality of life than length of life.
"The mission at NewLimit is to radically extend human health span, which is intending to give us more healthy years," Armstrong told Fortune. "So, yeah, I think it's important to make that distinction."
As for specifics of how the startup will go about this, Byers said the team's initial focus is on T-cells, which are integral to the immune system. Producing the research is capital intensive, and the company is planning to use its new funding round to hire scientists and pay for lab equipment.
NewLimit declined to provide any schedule for when the startup might begin commercializing its research, in part because its efforts are for now focused on foundational discoveries rather than developing products.
Armstrong, however, did suggest that NewLimit might partner with large biotech companies in the event any of its findings promise to have an immediate application. He added that, eventually, the ability to bring in revenue is a "truth serum" for startups to show they are viable.
He compared NewLimit's efforts to those of the space exploration company SpaceX.
"An analogy would be how SpaceX is trying to get to Mars. But they're also able to get some satellites into orbit in the meantime. And that actually helps them on their journey to get to Mars because it helps them perfect the technology needed for the broader mission," said Armstrong.
Other investors in the Series A include the venture firms Dimension and Founders Fund, as well as serial entrepreneur Elad Gil and Coinbase cofounder Fred Ehrsam.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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