CellAge Raising Money for an Aged Cells Removal Product
2016 December 13
Meet Ąžuolas Čiukas from CellAge, a biotech company that develops new tools for removal of aged cells. They have just launched a crowdfunding campaign that would help them to develop their initial product and work on intellectual property rights. If successful, their biomarker for senescent cells could enter the market by late 2017.
Hi Ąžuolas, so what exactly is CellAge? What problems are you trying to solve?
Ąžuolas: CellAge is an early stage biotech startup aiming to transform the healthcare industry. We are developing new tools and therapies for the identification and removal of aged cells.
Our society is ageing rapidly and this is becoming a tremendous social and economic burden. One of the major challenges that come from this new demographic structure is the increased incidence of age-related diseases. We believe that the best way to solve this problem is to make people healthy even at an older age.
As we age our bodies accumulate specific cells called senescent cells. These cells are no longer able to replicate and in the long term they harm the surrounding tissue. They have been shown to contribute to age-related diseases such as atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis and cancer. What is really exciting about these new findings, is that removing these cells from mice, makes them live healthier and longer lives!
Here at CellAge, we are working on creating new tools that will allow for a safe and precise identification and removal of these cells.
How and when did you start this company?
Ąžuolas: The idea to start CellAge was born in the late 2015, when its founder Mantas Matjušaitis came across a potent technical opportunity to use synthetic biology to advance ageing research. At that time, the ageing research community was (and still is) both excited and hopeful about the implications of the new studies that have shown therapeutic benefits of removing senescent cells in mice. However, at that time it was not clear how these promising findings could be applied to humans as detecting these cells still remained a technical challenge. After discussing this opportunity with our partners, who had successfully helped to target various cell types including liver cells, we realised how important this approach can be both therapeutically and commercially. And after that it just kicked off!
Where are you currently in terms of product and business development?
Ąžuolas: Currently, we are launching our crowdfunding campaign which we will use to get the required funds to start the product development. If we succeed, we will synthesise our first product, SeneSENSE - the biomarker for senescent cells, which could enter the market by the late 2017.
What are your main challenges and how do you overcome them?
Ąžuolas: Because the idea is relatively new for the general public, people often assume that it is too good to be true or they confuse the promising technological advances with snake oil products that are so abundant on the Internet. We are not trying to make people immortal or offer anti-ageing creams with no scientific backing. We are investigating new technologies to see if we can make people healthier. A similar research has already reached clinical trials! There are a lot of convincing arguments supporting this scientific approach, but communicating this message clearly is the key challenge we face every day. We are going to release online videos that explain the scientific basis for this approach to empower our future customers with the knowledge about our technology.
Could you please introduce your founders and core team?
Ąžuolas: CellAge was founded by Mantas Matjušaitis, a 3rd year PhD student in synthetic biology with cellular senescence and business development experience. Mantas is working as a CEO leading CellAge through its development. Myself, Ąžuolas Čiukas is the COO of CellAge and works mainly on fundraising, business development and corporate outreach. Ąžuolas is a final year Economics student at the University of Edinburgh who has experience in M&A advisory, corporate finance and project management. Eryk Jan Grzeszkowiak is our CMO and he is studying for a MSc in Genetics. He also holds a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and uses his crowdfunding and marketing experience to advance our mission. In addition to the core team, we have an experienced advisory board which is helping us through this journey.
How are you funded?
Ąžuolas: We have begun our first crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds for the development of our initial product, SeneSENSE, and our first IP. In order to reach this milestone, we need £100k. Therefore, we are actively looking for people interested in this idea who are willing to support our cause either financially or in any other way! Please visit our website for more information or get in touch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Simply speaking - what's next?
Ąžuolas: A month of crowdfunding, then some time to fundraise the remaining capital that we need and then a year of scientific research and exciting discoveries - stay tuned!
We definitely will! Thanks for your time Ąžuolas.