UNITY Biotechnology, Inc. and UCSF Enter Exclusive License Agreement on alpha-Klotho Protein for the Treatment of Age-Related Cognitive Decline

Thursday, May 30, 2019

UNITY Biotechnology, Inc., a biotechnology company developing therapeutics to extend healthspan by slowing, halting or reversing diseases of aging, and UC San Francisco (UCSF) today announced that UNITY executed an exclusive, worldwide license to UCSF intellectual property relating to the alpha-Klotho protein, a circulating factor associated with improved cognitive performance.

The alpha-Klotho protein was initially identified in mice as an “aging-suppressor” that accelerates aging when the gene encoding it is disrupted, and slows aging when the alpha-Klotho protein is over-produced. In a 2017 report, Dena Dubal, M.D., Ph.D.,  David A. Coulter Endowed Chair in Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease at UCSF, and other authors, reported that when the alpha-Klotho protein was injected into mice it reversed the deleterious effects of aging and age-related disease on cognition.

“Aging is the biggest risk factor for developing cognitive disorders. If we can understand the underlying issue - how we age – and develop treatment options to enhance cognitive function, we have the potential to help our brains stay healthier and more resilient throughout our lifetimes,” said Dr. Dubal.

“Circulating levels of alpha-Klotho protein gradually decline as we age,” said Nathaniel David, president of UNITY Biotechnology. “Yet, a small percentage of the population possesses naturally elevated alpha-Klotho levels that are associated with extended healthspan, enhanced cognition and less age-associated cognitive decline. We are exploring the utility of the alpha-Klotho protein in collaboration with world-renowned researchers from UCSF, with a goal to identify a potential drug candidate to treat particular diseases of aging, including cognitive decline.”

Under the license agreement, UNITY gains worldwide, exclusive rights to UCSF’s intellectual property relating to the use of alpha-Klotho protein, including a recently issued patent covering methods of using the alpha-Klotho protein and variants to reverse or prevent cognitive decline. The negotiations were led by the Technology Management team in the UCSF Innovation Ventures office, which leads the university’s business development, technology licensing, and efforts to translate cutting-edge science into therapies and products that directly benefit patients worldwide.  Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.