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product deoxycholic acid (Kybella)—an injection that reduces double-chin fat—for $2.1 billion last year.
Unity feels like a Kythera reunion. Samuels, when she was at Versant Ventures, was a Kythera investor, as were Nelsen and Burow at Arch.
Samuels says she made a personal investment in Unity before she joined Venrock in 2014 and had to convince her new partners she wasn’t pushing her own bias. “The history of companies in anti-aging has been mostly failures and snake oil,” she says.
One of those failures was Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, which was bought by GlaxoSmithKline in 2008 for $720 million. GSK shut it down five years later.
Another was Elixir Pharmaceuticals, founded nearly 20 years ago. Nelsen, via Arch, was an early investor in Elixir. It fizzled out several years ago.
Nelsen says he has personally invested in a supplement company, Elysium Health, with links to Elixir. Its chief scientist, MIT professor Leonard Guarente, was an Elixir cofounder. Nelsen says he takes the company’s supplement Elysium Basis every day.