Paul Scherrer Institute and Apollo Health Ventures launch Focal Biosciences

Based in Villligen, the newly established biotech company aims to redefine the treatment of age-related diseases by reprogramming deregulated processes in cells that cause the detrimental processes underlying many serious diseases of aging that represent a significant health burden.

Advances in understanding the biology of aging coupled with emerging technologies have significantly increased pre-symptomatic detection of age-related damage and dysfunction and paved the way for novel interventions. Cellular reprogramming in particular provides a novel approach of resetting damaged or dysfunctional cells to a healthy state, reversing disease mechanisms and stopping detrimental processes to transform the treatment landscape of age-related diseases.

Paul Scherrer Institute and Apollo Health Ventures have established Focal Biosciences to redefine the treatment of age-related diseases by applying its deep scientific expertise in the mechanisms of cellular reprogramming to reverse detrimental disease processes and restore health. The Paul Scherrer Institute and Apollo Health Ventures will join their resources together with scientific founder G.V. Shivashankar, head of the Laboratory of Nanoscale Biology at the Paul Scherrer Institute and Professor of Mechano-Genomics at the ETH Zurich since 2020, and a recognized leader in mechanogenomics with strong expertise in cellular reprogramming.

The company will initially operate out of the Paul Scherrer Institute, the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences in Switzerland that serves scientists worldwide by accommodating highly complicated experiments in their industry-leading research facilities. Focal Biosciences thus has access to PSI’s key infrastructure and expertise as part of Apollo's venture creation program, “Venture Labs” which sources leading science from scientists and labs in Europe and North America, based on its deep understanding of the biology of ageing.

“Our investment approach is focused on identifying outstanding science to catalyze and build pioneering companies and taking an active role in their corporate evolution. We have watched the formation and maturation of the cellular reprogramming space for some time,” said Jan Adams, Venture Partner at Apollo Health Ventures. “We are confident that with the expertise and technologies developed by G.V. Shivashankar at PSI, Focal Biosciences can pursue a unique and innovative approach leveraging an advanced concept of cellular reprogramming that will enable the development of a novel class of therapies.” 

“We value Apollo Health Ventures’ and PSI’s commitment to our scientific vision of how to fundamentally change the treatment landscape for a variety of age-related diseases,” said G.V. Shivashankar. “I look forward to working with the expert team at Apollo to position Focal Biosciences for success and build a company that unlocks new approaches for patients with severe diseases.”

(Press release)