Human Longevity (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy, high-performance human life span, has been launched by co-founders J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., Robert Hariri, M.D., Ph.D., and Peter H. Diamandis, M.D.
The company, headquartered in San Diego, Calif., is being capitalized with an initial $70 million in investor funding.
HLI’s funding is being used to build the largest human sequencing operation in the world to compile the most comprehensive and complete human genotype, microbiome and phenotype database available to tackle the diseases associated with aging-related human biological decline. HLI also is developing cell-based therapeutics to address age-related decline in endogenous stem cell function. Revenue streams will be derived from database licensing to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic organizations, sequencing and development of advanced diagnostics and therapeutics.
“Using the combined power of our core areas of expertise—genomics, informatics and stem cell therapies—we are tackling one of the greatest medical/scientific and societal challenges—aging and aging-related diseases,” said Venter. “HLI is going to change the way medicine is practiced by helping to shift to a more preventive, genomic-based medicine model which we believe will lower healthcare costs. Our goal is not necessarily lengthening life, but extending a healthier, high-performing, more productive life span.”
HLI initially has purchased two Illumina HiSeq X Ten Sequencing Systems (with the option to acquire three additional systems) to sequence up to 40,000 human genomes per year, with plans to rapidly scale to 100,000 human genomes per year. HLI will sequence a variety of humans—children, adults and super centenarians, those with disease and those who are healthy.
HLI is uniquely positioned to identify therapeutic solutions to preserve the healthy, high-performing body by focusing on some of the most prevalent and actionable areas. HLI is concentrating on cancer, diabetes and obesity, heart and liver diseases and dementia with its team of scientists and clinicians. The company has established strategic collaborations with Metabolon, University of California, San Diego and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI).
HLI is focusing its initial clinical sequencing efforts on cancer. While many are tackling this area using gene sequencing and other advanced technologies, there has not been a comprehensive clinical effort to combine germ line, human genome and tumor genome sequencing along with comprehensive biochemical information from each patient.
HLI and UC San Diego have signed a collaborative research agreement to develop protocols and procedures to enable whole genome, microbiome and tumor sequencing and analysis of consenting UC San Diego research patients. The goal is to analyze, utilize and share the data generated, with the objective of enhancing diagnostic abilities and improving patient outcomes. The collaboration has begun with the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center led by Director Scott Lippman, M.D. The company will seek to extend this type of agreement and program to other clinical centers worldwide.
Along with the genomic data gleaned from the sequencing of complete human genomes, HLI also will be generating microbiome data for many of these individuals through its Biome Healthcare division, under the leadership of Karen Nelson, Ph.D.
The microbiome consists of all the microbes that live in and on the human body that contribute to health and disease status of an individual. By better understanding a person’s microbiome (gut, oral, skin, lung and other body sites), the company anticipates developing improved probiotics and other advanced diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to improve health and wellness.
Along with the microbiome data, HLI will capture and analyze each individual’s metabolomic data. The metabolome is the full complement of metabolites, biochemicals and lipids circulating throughout the human body. HLI has signed an agreement with Metabolon, a diagnostic products and services company offering the biochemical profiling platform, to capture this information from each of the genomic samples that HLI is collecting. Metabolomics is important because quantifying and understanding the full picture of circulating chemicals in the body can help researchers get a clearer picture of that individual’s health status, and provide markers and pathways associated with drug action.
The company will embark on an ambitious multi-pronged effort utilizing stem cell therapy advances to enhance and improve the healthy life span. HLI’s work is premised on the theory that as the human body ages many biological changes occur, including substantial changes and degradation to the genome of the differentiated, specialized cells found in all body tissues. There also is a depletion and degradation of healthy regenerative stem cell populations in the body over time. HLI will monitor the genomic changes which occur during stem cell differentiation, normal aging and in association with the onset of disease.
“The global market for healthy human longevity is enormous with total healthcare expenditures in those 65 and older running well over $7 trillion,” said Hariri. “We believe that HLI’s unique science and technology, along with our business leadership, will positively impact the healthcare market with novel diagnostics and therapeutics.”
HLI is establishing a collaboration and research services agreement with the JCVI covering proteomics, infectious disease diagnostics and the human microbiome. Venter is founder and CEO of JCVI, which focuses in human, microbial and synthetic genomics. HLI will be licensing intellectual property from JCVI.
“Between 1910 and 2010 improvements in medicine and sanitation increased the human lifespan by 50% from 50 to 75 years,” said Diamandis. “Today with the emergence of exponential technologies such as those being pioneered and advanced by HLI we have the potential to meaningfully extend the lifespan even further.”