An unidentified scientist at Human Longevity’s microbiome lab collects samples to ready them for genome sequencing. The company’s mission encompasses making life longer and healthier. Photo courtesy of Human Longevity

An unidentified scientist at Human Longevity’s microbiome lab collects samples to ready them for genome sequencing. The company’s mission encompasses making life longer and healthier. Photo courtesy of Human Longevity

Once the toast of the town, Human Longevity Inc.’s valuation sunk to $310 million, down more than 80 percent from early 2017.

That news popped up Dec. 7, but company cracks began showing earlier in the year.

The San Diego Business Journal this summer covered the company trying to move past executive exodus and employee cuts. At the peak Human Longevity — which deploys genomics and advanced imaging for health insights — had 300 employees, which fell to 160 workers several months ago.

Human Longevity’s board determined the company needs $25 million in short-term financing, according to a November letter to shareholders reviewed by the San Diego Business Journal. The request for “down round” financing triggered the $310 million valuation, versus $1.6 billion last year, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

More woes followed. On Dec. 19, a California judge dismissed a lawsuit in which Human Longevity accused former CEO J. Craig Venter of stealing trade secrets. The lawsuit was filed against J. Craig Venter Institute, a nonprofit that Venter founded and returned to following his departure from Human Longevity this spring.

How can the company turn things around? Interim CEO David Karow this summer said Human Longevity would expand its Health Nucleus center to more locations, counting on falling MRI and genome sequencing costs opening up a middle-class market.