- Loyal has secured $27 million in Series A investment headed by Khosla Ventures, with participation from First Round Capital, Box Group, Collaborative Fund, The Longevity Fund, and Lachy Groom.
- Loyal is researching medicines targeted at increasing both the lifespan and healthspan of dogs, employing companion dog citizen science studies of over 500 dogs to better understand canine aging, and eventually parlaying that R&D into goods meant for people.
- Loyal has grown from a three-person team to a 30-person company in the last year.
- Loyal approaches longevity through a restricted mechanism.
Loyal, a San Francisco company, is redefining the notion of longevity, beginning with man’s best friend. The firm secured $27 million in Series A investment headed by Khosla Ventures, with participation from First Round Capital, Box Group, Collaborative Fund, The Longevity Fund, and Lachy Groom — all organizations engaged in Loyal’s $11 million seed round funded in 2020, as well as a group of angel investors. Since its inception in 2019 by founder and CEO Celine Halioua, the firm has raised $38 million to date.
She promotes her 50 percent female investor makeup as a means of elevating more women in deep tech and longevity. Halioua herself hails from a mixed family. She studied neurology at The University of Texas before moving on to The Longevity Fund as head of staff and entrepreneur-in-residence.
The worldwide industry was worth over $8 billion in 2020 and is expected to more than quadruple by 2027. Though Botox is widely recognized in this arena for its ability to smooth out wrinkles, Halioua believes that by treating aging, it may be used to prevent age-related illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The company’s theory is that by attempting to increase the healthspan and longevity of dogs, it will learn more about how to achieve the same in people. According to Halioua, a dog’s lifetime is equal to that of a human owing to closeness – dogs share environmental variables, occasionally eat the same food, and can get the same aging illnesses as humans, such as heart issues and cancer.
Loyal is researching medicines targeted at increasing both the lifespan and healthspan of dogs, employing companion dog citizen science studies of over 500 dogs to better understand canine aging, and eventually parlaying that R&D into goods meant for people.
How will Loyal use the funds?
Loyal has grown from a three-person team to a 30-person company in the last year. The new funding will allow the company to expand its computation biology team in order to continue focusing on its products: one aimed at extending the lives of large breed animals, which are known to have shorter lifespans than small breed counterparts, and one aimed at improving cognitive function.
Both of these will enter clinical trials next year with the hopes of receiving FDA clearance, according to Halioua. After demonstrating that its medications perform what they claim to do — help dogs live longer, healthier lives — Loyal will focus on developing a consumer brand that is direct-to-consumer, selling directly to both doctors and pet parents.
“Our next steps are to gradually build out our biology team and data so that we can tackle the thorny challenge of measuring the aging process,” she continued. “There is a chance to create a pharmaceutical brand that people enjoy rather than one that they are puzzled about. These are medicines intended for a positive purpose, such as extending the life of a dog.”
According to the American Pet Products Association, American pet spending will reach almost $100 billion in 2020, up from $95.7 billion in 2019. Venture capital investment in the sector is also increasing; for example, in July, Embark Veterinary announced a $75 million round led by SoftBank. The firm provides DNA testing in the hopes of reducing avoidable illnesses and extending canine longevity by three years over the following decade.
According to Alexander Morgan, M.D. Ph.D., partner at Khosla Ventures, the pet area is dynamic and large enough that if Loyal merely focused its attention there, it could develop a huge, successful business. Many research on human illnesses is conducted on dogs since they are an excellent model for human health. However, determining whether the medication is truly useful is difficult, he noted.
“Loyal approaches longevity through a restricted mechanism,” Morgan explained. “They distinguish themselves by emphasizing overall longevity and healthspan. Healthspan is essential since you don’t want to add years to your life that are unhealthy.”