Discovering medicines that extend healthy lifespan, based on insights into the biochemical Hallmarks of Aging.
Geroscience is an emerging new field in biomedical research, concerned with the biochemical drivers of aging and age-related disease. These drivers are known as the Hallmarks of Aging (a phrase coined by one of our scientific founders).
Over the last two decades, the geroscience community has identified several orthogonal methods of extending healthy lifespan in mammals, up to 30% in some cases. Despite this series of incredible scientific advances, there has never been a systematic industry effort to screen for new ‘geroprotectors’ or drugs that extend healthy lifespan.
Samsara Therapeutics is built on a screening platform that has identified new molecules that extend healthy lifespan across species. We then chemically optimize these hits and test them in animal models of disease and aging.
We begin with readouts of the Hallmarks of Aging in human cells and yeast with our BioCELL and CellHealth Platforms, followed by healthspan studies C. elegans, D. melanogaster, and mice. Most of the known ‘geroprotective’ small molecules, such as rapamycin and metformin, were discovered to extend lifespan using these short-lived model organisms.
In our labs in Oxford, we are studying the mechanism of action of our new molecules and uncovering exciting new biological pathways. We are also running high throughput screens against new targets based on the years of expertise and insights from our scientific founders.
Across species, the aging process is phylogenetically conserved – the Hallmarks of Aging in fruit flies and mice are shared with the hallmarks in humans. By slowing the aging process, Samsara does not rely on contrived animal models of disease, which have limited concordance with human pathology. A molecule that extends healthy lifespan in one species often extends lifespan in other species.
By targeting the fundamental biology of the aging process, there is an increasing body of evidence to show that the drugs we aim to develop can be applied to many different age related-diseases.
Our Discovery Platforms
Prof. Frank MadeoScientific Founder
Frank Madeo is Professor in the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at University of Graz, Austria. The laboratory of Dr. Madeo is known for elucidating the fundamental mechanisms of cell death and aging in yeast. Current research interests include autophagy in yeast and mammalian cells and using flies as a model of aging and human disease. The Madeo laboratory also identified the polyamine spermidine as a novel geroprotector that extends health-span across model organisms. He was awarded the Seneca Medal for Aging Research, is a member of the American Academy of Microbiology, and was Editor-in-Chief of Microbial Cell. Dr. Madeo and Guido Kroemer have been long-time collaborators, publishing over 100 high impact articles together. Dr. Madeo received his PhD with first class honors from the University of Tübingen.
Prof. Guido KroemerScientific Founder
Guido Kroemer MD, PhD is Professor at the University of Paris Descartes and Inserm. Dr. Kroemer is a prominent researcher in the fields of autophagy and cancer biology. He is best known for the discovery that the permeabilization of mitochondrial membranes constitutes a decisive step in programmed cell death. Kroemer has explored the fine mechanisms of mitochondrial cell death control, the molecular pathways that explain the inhibition of cell death in cancer cells, upstream of or at the level of mitochondria, and the mechanisms that make cancer cell death immunogenic. In recent years, he has worked on the link between cellular stress and autophagy, as well as the stimulation of autophagy for improving health span and lifespan in model organisms. His work has had far reaching implications for the comprehension, detection and therapeutic manipulation of cellular demise. He has published some 1100 papers in leading journals, with an h-index of 217. He is one of the 10 most cited life scientists in the world. Dr. Kroemer was founding editor-in-chief of Cell Death & Disease and is a member of EMBO. His MD and PhD are from the University of Innsbruck, and has a second PhD from the Autonomous University of Madrid.
Prof. Didac Carmona-GutierrezScientific Founder
Didac Carmona-Gutierrez is a professor at the University of Graz, Austria. He is leading the yeast-aging drug discovery pipeline (“CellHealth Platform”) for Samsara Therapeutics. Dr. Carmonz-Gutierrez is currently Editor-in-Chief of Microbial Cell and executive editor of Cell Stress. Dr. Carmona-Gutierrez was previously a postdoc in the Madeo lab, where he published extensively on the life and death of yeast. He received his PhD in molecular biology from the University of Graz.
Prof. Oliver KeppScientific Founder
Oliver Kepp is Assistant Professor at University of Paris Descartes and Gustave Roussy Cancer Institute. Dr. Kep established the BioCELL screening platform, a state-of-the-art phenotypic screening facility and among the most sophisticated of its kind in Europe. Dr. Kepp has focused on systems biology approaches to immunogenic cell death, with expertise in automation and high throughput screening, automated bioimaging, and assay development for cell biological approaches. Previously, he was a Max Planck postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology (Berlin, Germany); EMBO long term fellow at the INSERM research unit U848 at Gustave Roussy Cancer Center (Villejuif, France).
Jens Eckstein, PhDCEO
Jens is CEO of Samsara and Managing Partner of Apollo Ventures, an early stage life science investment fund investing in Europe and the US focused exclusively on breakthrough therapeutics arising from the study of the biology of aging. He has more than 15 years of venture capital experience in biopharma and 10 years of operational experience in drug discovery and development. Jens is a Kauffman Fellow and a mentor for life science entrepreneurs and start-up teams in the area of innovative life science and healthcare IT companies. Before joining Apollo Ventures and Samsara, Jens served as President of SR One for eight years. He is also co-founder and Managing Director of Action Potential Venture Capital (APVC). Previously, Jens was a General Partner at TVM Capital leading early-stage investments in Boston and was CEO and President of SelectX Pharmaceuticals. Before his investment career, Jens was leading research teams and pharma collaborations at Enanta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ENTA) and Mitotix.
Peter Hamley, PhD, MBAChief Scientific Officer
Peter is a recognized industry leader in drug discovery, having spent 15 years at Sanofi, most recently as Global Head of External Innovation, Drug Discovery. Prior to his business development role, he led global medicinal and automated chemistry, natural product and antibody drug conjugate departments across Germany, France, and the US, with divisions of more than 100 international FTEs, and has contributed to the advancement of many projects into clinical development across multiple therapeutic areas. He started his career at AstraZeneca with a decade of leading medicinal chemistry teams in the respiratory and inflammation disease areas. His academic career spans postdoctoral positions with Prof Amos B. Smith III and Prof Ralph Hirschmann at the University of Pennsylvania, a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and a BSc in Chemistry from Imperial College London (first class honours). He holds an MBA from the University of Bath. Over his career in big pharma, he has been involved in hundreds of drug discovery projects. He executed Sanofi’s Lab031 partnership with Evotec, Sanofi’s natural product partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute, been part of the negotiating teams for the divestment of the Toulouse and Tucson Sanofi sites, and pioneered Sanofi’s risk-sharing approach to early drug discovery with academics and commercial partners, and he set up Sanofi’s partnerships in artificial intelligence for drug discovery. He has published numerous papers and patents and was co-editor of the textbook Small Molecule Medicinal Chemistry: Strategies and Technologies (Wiley).
Sebastian AguiarFounder & Advisor
Sebastian launched Samsara as a Venture Fellow (EIR) at Apollo Ventures. Prior to Apollo, he was a Fulbright Research Fellow in the biology of aging at the Gulbenkian Institute. His education includes: MSc in Biomedical Science, University of Amsterdam, and an MSc in Life Science Business Management at VU Amsterdam.
Warren Galloway, PhDDirector of Medicinal Chemistry
Warren Galloway is the Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Samsara Therapeutics. He is a Fellow Emeritus at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. He has 72 publications in chemistry and chemical biology, including in diversity-oriented synthesis. Dr. Galloway undertook his postdoc in the David Spring lab at Cambridge. He received his B.A., M.A., and PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Cambridge.
David Newman, DPhilScientific Advisory Board
Dr. David Newman is Chief emeritus of the Natural Products Branch of the US NIH National Cancer Institute. He is one of the world’s leading ‘drug hunters’ in the field of microbial natural products. He was president of the American Society of Pharmacognosy. He has fifty years experience in natural products chemistry, including 15 years at SmithKline & French. He holds an MSc in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Liverpool and DPhil in Microbial Chemistry from the University of Sussex. Dr. Newman is author of over 200 publications including multiple of the most highly cited reviews in the field of natural products chemistry. He is a fellow of the Royal Societies of both Biology and Chemistry.
Prof. Robin KettelerScientific Advisory Board
Robin Ketteler is Professor of Cell Signaling and Autophagy at UCL. Dr. Kettler is also the High Content Imaging group leader at UCL Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology. He received his PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology in the Ursula Klingmuller lab, and conducted his postdoc at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the Brian Seed lab.
James Sikorski, PhDScientific Advisory Board
Dr. Jim Sikorski was Vice President of Chemistry at Atherogenics, taking 3 new molecules into preclinical development to scaling for phase 3 candidate for CVD up to 100 kg quantities. He was previously Science Fellow and Chemistry Group Leader at Searle/Pharmacia for 10 years, where he identified a novel CVD candidate taken into the clinic and 3 new anti-inflammatory compounds for preclinical development. He holds 132 granted patents and 116 publications. He was recipient of ACS Kenneth A. Spencer Award for Excellence in Chemistry in 1999. He conducted his PhD in organic chemistry with Nobel Laurate Herbert C. Brown at Purdue University
Steven HutchinsScientific Advisory Board
Steven Hutchins was EVP of Business Development at Evotec, VP of Business Development at WuXi, and President of Jubilant Biosys. Prior to these roles he was Senior Director of Merck Reseach Labs, spending a total of 17 years at MRL. He has a B.S. in chemistry from the University of New Hampshire.
The Hallmarks of Aging (2013) Cell.
Caloric Restriction Mimetics against Age-Associated Disease: Targets, Mechanisms, and Therapeutic Potential. (2019) Cell Metabolism.
Autophagy and the Integrated Stress Response. (2010) Molecular Cell.
Biological Functions of Autophagy Genes: A Disease Perspective. (2019)
Yeast as a tool to identify anti-aging compounds. (2018) Oxford Journals: FEMS Yeast Research.
The flavonoid 4,4′-dimethoxychalcone promotes autophagy-dependent longevity across species. (2018). Nature Communications
Therapeutic modulation of autophagy: Which disease comes first? (2019) Cell Death & Differentiation