May 11, 2021 2 mins, 12 secs
For years, sci­en­tists have looked to curb ag­ing and chron­ic dis­eases by clear­ing de­funct cells with ir­repara­ble dam­age, al­so known as senes­cent cells.

So when Robin Man­sukhani was told it could be done us­ing reawak­ened im­mune cells, he was in­trigued.

Back in 2018, Man­sukhani was in­tro­duced to Anil Bhushan, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cis­co, who was work­ing on a way to weaponize in­vari­ant Nat­ur­al Killer T (iNKT) cells against senes­cent cells to treat type 1 di­a­betes.

While the team is no longer go­ing af­ter di­a­betes, they pub­lished a pa­per on Mon­day in Med link­ing in vi­vo iNKT cells with clear­ing senes­cent cells.

“These cells have long been of in­ter­est to peo­ple — they just, you know, haven’t re­al­ly fig­ured out what to do with them or what they re­al­ly do,” Man­sukhani, now CEO, said.

“There was some­thing in the senes­cent cell that said, OK, there’s a foot­print here to an im­mune cell that’s go­ing to talk to this senes­cent cell and clear it out.

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Soon after becoming the darling of the VC crew and clearing the bar on a $4 billion valuation, Ginkgo — a synthetic biotech player out to reprogram cells with industrial efficiency — has now struck a deal to go public in the latest leviathan SPAC that sets its pre-money valuation at $15 billion.

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On Tuesday, Appia Bio launched with $52 million in Series A financing led by 8VC and a platform focused on what are called invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT), an extremely rare immune cell the biotech hopes to reengineer to bust malignant tumors through a “best of both worlds” attack plan, the company said


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