Cambrian Biopharma, Alzheimer's Disease, Cancer discussed on Squawk Pod

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And even with young blood. To slow or reverse the effects of aging, there are also startups working on reprogramming cells. One of those initiatives at Harvard actually restored site to blind mice. There's even a startup focused on the longevity of dogs. Because if we live longer, only company. One of these longevity startups is Cambrian BioPharma. It focuses on human aging and fun fact, one of the cofounders has another company, a Thai life sciences, which aims to use psychedelic mushrooms to treat mental disorders and post traumatic stress. Anyway, here's Andrew. Here now is one of the entrepreneurs hoping to get an age related disease on a cellular level joining us right now is James Pierre. He's the cofounder and CEO of Cambrian BioPharma. Good morning to you. Good morning. I don't know. I would like to live for a very, very, very long time, but I'd like to live in a healthy way for a very, very long time. Where do you think we are now and what do you think realistically we've got in the offing in the next say decade? Yeah, I think this whole longevity field is sort of taking the BioTech world by storm right now and a lot of times when I hear people talk about the excitement behind the space. It's like, oh, we're going to make some magic pill that makes us live to 200 or something like that. And that's not really where the science is right now. But what makes longevity so exciting is that it offers the solution to what is currently the biggest problem in all of medicine today. And that is that the drugs that we have to treat the diseases of aging like cancer and Alzheimer's disease, they just kind of suck right now. They all involve waiting for us to get sick, and then they try to untangle that complex disease with one drug. And so in this longevity space, what scientists have done is they've discovered these drivers of aging. Changes to our cells that happen years or decades before we actually get sick. And that's going to give us the opportunity to go after these diseases proactively preventing us from ever getting sick instead of reactively. And I think that's going to be the most important paradigm shift in healthcare that happens this century. James, what's different about now? And the reason I'm asking the question is for years, as you know, there have been folks peddling all sorts of claims about longevity. We are at a moment where there's a lot of liquidity in the market. You can see that liquidity going to all sorts of new spaces. One of those spaces is this area around longevity. But is there something different happening in the world of science? Yeah, I would say that there's a few sort of trends that are kind of converging there. And we probably don't have time to get into all of them. But if I were to punch through the three big ones, is that the BioTech space in general is just going to continue to be a great spot for investment. We're in the world of COVID and we spent all of 2020 reading about clinical trials on the front page of every newspaper and we're learning about new Greek letters like today, but really the BioTech space on a fundamental level is benefiting from the sequencing of the human genome that happened 20 years ago and just now we're able to make drugs smarter and faster than ever before because it takes decades to go from that initial set of discoveries to drugs. The second big trend that I think is really kind of the why now for this space is that a decade ago, we just didn't understand what was changing in ourselves to drive these diseases of aging and because of the step by step progress that's been made across academia, we now have this list. Cambrian studies 13 different drivers of aging. And we've been able to create drugs targeting those drivers, the cellular changes that happen. And this is creating this space as a real thing for the first time. And that's really the paradigm shift that's happening. Hey, James, I'll see you stem cell PhD. So we can talk about this one thing and let me just it's a little in the weeds, but how do we focus on extending the life of the organism rather than extending life of the cell? Because you know what happens when you extend the life of the cell. That's not good for anybody. So there's the telomeres, telomerase. There's those ideas. Then you're just going to breed cancer. So theoretically, if you make a sell immortal, that's like the last thing you want to do. You want it to so how do you focus on the organism itself and extending the life there rather than the individual cell? Yeah, I would love to talk for you guys for like half an hour about this, but the short version is that if you target each and any of these drivers of aging and an intelligent way, what you get is not just an extension of the cellular lifespan, which is what you see when you give a cell unlimited telomeres and that causes cancer as you rightly pointed out. But when you target these in a smart way and fix the damage that's building up, you actually can change the what we call health span, the time spent in good health. Of an entire organism. And the field has been able to do that with more than 75 different interventions now. You change one thing, target one of these drivers of aging, and the whole organism lives longer and healthier. And so for each of the interventions that we do, let's take telomeres, for example, we run out of telomeres, little by little, as we get older. Right. But we've figured out a way to extend those telomeres regenerating ourselves on a cellular level without having to increase the risk of cancer. And like solving those problems, which wasn't possible 20 years ago, when telomeres and telomerase were discovered, but is possible now is part of this paradigm shift that's happening. That's exciting. And I would certainly like brain cells that last a lot longer. And then I was singing hair cells, follicles. Is there any way to extend just indefinitely for? It's something that when people think about aging, they think about hair grain and hair loss. It's something very, very popular, but there's probably commercially commercially near term something you can wear. I want to let it get back to ander. You want to be serious things. But send me some info on the hair stuff. Keep going on the hair. So the fascinating thing about hair just really quickly is that hair loss and like age related diseases aren't actually linked. So the things that cause us to age and get more likely to be sick aren't the same things that are kind of the causes of hair loss. So they're very, very different topics. We don't work on awful lot on hair loss for that reason, because we are much more interested in preventing cancer and Alzheimer's disease than the hair loss problem. But if there was a good opportunity that was related to one of these drivers of aging, we'd probably jump on it. So James, as you know, there's a lot of investors who are watching us talking right now. And they're thinking to themselves, I imagine, okay, well, what's the implication of this? Both in the context of investing in the space that you're in itself, but also all of the derivative implications of if people are either living longer in terms of actual years or living better, what does that actually mean? So I don't know how you want to take that, but I think it would be valuable to think about those two issues. Absolutely. So I think the top line here from an investor standpoint is that I watched this field not take off for nearly a decade because investors rightly said, you can't just take a brand new drug and run a trial for aging. It would just be way too expensive and take too long. But the cool thing about Cambrian, for example, is a business, is that we don't actually have a problem around that. Our drugs might eventually be used to slow aging and make people live longer and we're really excited about that. But today we're using them as treatments for existing diseases like muscular dystrophy or cancer. And that's how the $1 trillion pharma industry already works. You take a new drug and you run trials on a specific disease. The cool thing about Cambrian is that these first trials are just a stepping stone for us to build this completely new industry on top of modern pharma, which will be these longevity Therapeutics that can prevent the diseases of aging, make people live longer. And so this longevity part of our business model, it's kind of like a cherry on top of an already delicious BioTech Sunday. Maybe a delicious and investable BioTech Sunday. As far as the social implications and the societal implications for what happens here, I think we could talk about the philosophy of this for a while. But at the end of the day, if we had a pill that we could take, that lowered our risk of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, bone weakness, and getting a heart attack all at the same time. I think most people would do it. And you could even make an argument that as our population gets older and more frail, keeping people in their 60s, 70s and 80s, healthy and productive, it should be one of our greatest societal goals. And that's what I think this field is going to enable. Okay, two more final questions. One's a practical one. David Sinclair, who's been one of the sort of experts in this field for quite a long time, he takes metformin a drug for diabetes to try to lower glucose in his body believes that that's a major trigger and an important thing. He thinks he thinks everybody should be taking that. What do you think? Yeah, so David's a friend and I think really a visionary in this field. I think that the evidence behind using metformin as an early version of a drug to slow aging is pretty damn strong. And we're going to see some clinical results where I think it's going to be one of the first trials that's one of the first drugs that's actually tested in trials to slow aging. I think for people who are not giving medical advice here, but I think a lot of people in this field, especially those above around 45 50, are taking this drug because they see the anecdotal evidence that we think is then going to be played out in clinical trials. And there are a couple of other drugs that are sort of these imperfect drugs for slowing aging, but are happened to already be approved and already be safe. The next generation of drugs that have been specifically designed to slow aging by BioTech companies like Cameron, those are going to blow drugs like metformin and their efficacy out of the water. Great. No sugar. Let's go to the other side. And I have a glass of red wine every night and say, wow, this is for this is for to help with aging. Reservoir, right? Great. So there's this funny thing about rosa troll. The red wine compound, right? That in order to get enough resveratrol to actually get the benefits of flowing aging, you have to drink about a hundred liters of wine a day. All right. So if you're up for it, I would say go for it. Hundred later. Yeah. But interestingly, there are some compounds in particular red wines from southern France and Sardinia, for example. That have these compounds called polyphenols that are really beneficial for longevity. And scientists are going to do it anyway. You know, okay. A hundred liters isn't too much. Yeah. James, we could do this as you can see. We could have this conversation forever, and hopefully we will continue it and do it again soon. We wish you a happy holidays and thanks for joining us today. 6 months. I'm taking Christmas cookies for having me. Take a week off my life. Hair loss. Tied the high testosterone so don't worry. You guys are safe. And that's it for squawk pod. Tomorrow, twas the day before the day before Christmas. We'll check in with the North American aerospace defense command, norad, on a critical mission. When we get children that call in the up center, we give them all the answers about how norad tracks Santa every year. And it starts when he makes his first movements out of the North Pole. Squawk box is hosted by Joe kernan, Becky quick and Andrew Ross Sorkin. 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