Rejuvenate Biomed: Expanding peoples’ health spans by boosting cell resilience

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Ann Beliën
Aging will affect each and every one of us at some point; it is part of the covenant of life. However, just as we have learned to treat and prevent various forms of cancers and cardiovascular diseases, there are numerous ways which we can improve peoples’ health spans. Rejuvenate Biomed is a young Belgian company in this field, leveraging safe prescription drugs to improve cell resilience and help us stay well for longer.

Dr. Ann Beliën was working at Janssen Pharmaceutica when her own father started suffering from multiple age-related diseases. It seemed as soon as one problem was brought under control; another would arise to take its place. In a story sadly familiar to many with aging loved ones, Beliën’s father’s condition deteriorated as the issues piled up and became chronic.

Frustrated by the lack of options, particularly as she herself worked in pharma, Beliën initiated a research project to approach age-related diseases from a new angle. In short time, that project became a company: Rejuvenate Biomed. Rejuvenate aims to increase the healthy years of life – also known as a person’s health span – by translating the science behind what keeps cells vital and resilient into human therapeutics.

“When we’re young, our cells are extraordinarily adept at repairing themselves, but as we age, we lose a lot of this regenerative capacity.” – Ann Beliën

“When we’re young, our cells are extraordinarily adept at repairing themselves,” Beliën explains. “But as we age, we lose a lot of this regenerative capacity: mechanisms are damaged, debris accumulates, and cell-to-cell communication breaks down. This deterioration of the cells’ self-restorative capacity will eventually lead to a failure in one of our organs and trigger a cascade of health issues, as my father experienced.”

Despite compounding problems when things go wrong, the interconnectedness of this system can also be leveraged for good – if you find a way to impact one malfunctioning mechanism, you can have a widespread therapeutic effect. Recently, there has been a sharp uptick in geroscience innovation, as progress has been made in the biology of aging. Companies and investors have started viewing age-related diseases less as inevitable signs of senescence and more as failing mechanisms that – as with any other disease – may have targets for treatment or prevention.

New solutions using tried-and-tested compounds

It is into this cutting-edge space that Rejuvenate has emerged, with a unique approach to finding such solutions. The company has developed a platform to screen approved prescription medicines with strong safety data to see if they may also have an effect on cell self-restorative mechanisms in general and age-related diseases specifically.

“We aim to create combination products where the drugs act additively or synergistically to boost the body’s own cell protection and repair mechanisms,” says Beliën. “To do this, we first focus on safety, because the population that we are aiming to help is aging but generally healthy. To make sure a product is safe enough for chronic use in a healthy population, you need to have the data to show it, which is why we screen compounds that have been around long enough for those data to exist.”

Read this article about AgomAb’s journey of growth in regenerative medicine

The company is entirely agonistic regarding the types of diseases for which the drugs are currently on the market.

“We have found promising compounds in the most unexpected indications. So long as they’re safe and orally administered, we’ll check if these medicines have an effect on the longevity-specific genes that we are interested in. We then create combination products, because we want to impact a whole network of genes for a widespread therapeutic benefit.”

A future where people stay healthy for life

Rejuvenate’s first lead candidate RJx-01 is a combination product moving into Belgian and international clinical trials for the treatment of sarcopenia – a type of muscle strength and mass loss. Sarcopenia can be either acute (induced by disease or disuse, such as during hospitalization) or chronic (usually related to aging). The acute disease affects 50% of elderly and rehabilitation patients and there is currently no approved therapy on the market.

“I think we all share a vision of a future where people stay healthy for life.” – Ann Beliën

Rejuvenate’s €15.7 million Series B will now be used to advance RJx-01 through Belgian and international clinical trials, to expand the product pipeline, and to further develop the company’s in silico and in vivo screening platform. Following Rejuvenate’s Series B, the team will be collaborating closely with Rejuveron Life Sciences, a Swiss biotech also developing therapies to promote healthy aging.

“It’s great to be working together with Rejuveron, a company with which we share both a vision and complementary expertise. It’s good that we’re not alone in this space, because it’s a tricky new field – particularly from a regulatory perspective. ‘Aging’ isn’t currently classified as an indication by any of the world’s regulatory agencies, meaning they can’t approve a healthy-aging compound. That being said, they are open to change, and agencies like the FDA and EMA are working closely together with companies like ours to see how we can all move forward together. I think we all share a vision of a future where people stay healthy for life.”