Turning science fiction into science fact


April 29, 2016 by Lauren Flynn

Joints that can be reconstructed. New tissues or entire organs to replace those damaged in injury or disease. A transplant of healthy beta cells so a diabetic never needs an insulin injection again.

It sounds a bit like science fiction, but these are among the problems Western’s stem cell researchers are working on and may be a reality in the very near future. The Western stem cell community is growing and currently 17 Western labs and their trainees are members of the Ontario Institute of Regenerative Medicine (OIRM). These members are engaged in a wide range of research activities, from understanding the earliest steps in embryonic development, to harnessing the power of adult stem cells to direct tissue repair or replacement.
Dr. David Hess has more than a professional interest in stem cells.
“As a teen,” he said, “I underwent bone marrow transplantation to treat severe aplastic anemia, a disease where stem cells within the bone marrow fail to produce red blood cells that carry oxygen to our tissues, leukocytes that fight infection, and platelets involved in blood coagulation.”
So, why stem cells?
Well, for one, stem cells are rather captivating entities. They are captivating in their ability to create perfect replicas of themselves and also create more specific cells the body needs for survival every day. Roughly two million red blood cells are produced every second. The lining of your intestine, probably the most hostile environment in your body, is completely regenerated by stem cells every three days. However, stem cells have also been subject to more than their fair share of controversy in the form of ethical debate and, more recently, hype as the ‘magic bullet’ to cure all ails.

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New protein injection reverses Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice in just one week Human trials are not far off.

New protein injection reverses Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice in just one week

Human trials are not far off.

21 APR 2016

Researchers have discovered that an injection of a protein called IL-33 can reverse Alzheimer’s-like symptoms and cognitive decline in mice, restoring their memory and cognitive function to the same levels as healthy mice in the space of one week.

Mice bred to develop a progressive Alzheimer’s-like disease as they aged (called APP/PS1 mice) were given daily injections of the protein, and it appeared to not only clear out the toxic amyloid plaques that are thought to trigger Alzheimer’s in humans, it also prevented more from forming.‌‌

“IL-33 is a protein produced by various cell types in the body and is particularly abundant in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord),” says lead researcher, Eddy Liew from the University of Glasgow in the UK. “We found that injection of IL-33 into aged APP/PS1 mice rapidly improved their memory and cognitive function to that of the age-matched normal mice within a week.”

Before we go any further, we should make it clear that these results are restricted to mice only, and at this stage, we have no idea if they will translate at all in humans with Alzheimer’s.

And the odds aren’t great – one study put successful translation of positive results in mice to humans at a rate of about 8 percent, so we can never get too excited until we see how things fare in human trials.

To read more at the original post, CLICK HERE

Scientists grow skin that replicates function of tissue for first time

Skin grown with follicles, glands and nerves could transform burns treatment and offer alternative to animal testing

grown skin

Bioengineered skin complete with functioning hair follicles, glands and nerves has been grown using a new technique that could transform burns treatment and end cosmetics testing on animals.

Working with mice, scientists in Japan created the skin by first producing three-dimensional clumps of cells that resembled embryos in the womb.

They then implanted the so-called “embryoid bodies” into immune-deficient mice, where the cells developed further. Next, the maturing cells were grafted on to the bodies of other mice to complete their transformation into skin.

The end result was functional “integumentary tissue”, the deeply layered tissue that allows the skin to work as the body’s largest organ.Lead scientist Dr Takashi Tsuji, from the RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology, said: “Up until now, artificial skin development has been hampered by the fact the skin lacked the important organs, such as hair follicles and exocrine glands, which allow the skin to play its important role in regulation.

“With this new technique, we have successfully grown skin that replicates the function of normal tissue.

Read more at:  www.theguardian.com/science/2016/apr/02/new-bioengineered-skin-could-transform-burns-treatment

‘Groundbreaking’ Stem Cell Treatment Could Regrow Limbs, Repair Bones

image: http://www.redorbit.com/media/uploads/2016/04/cells.jpg

Human cells isolated

APRIL 5, 2016

‘Groundbreaking’ stem cell treatment could regrow limbs, repair bones

In the pages of comic books and on the silver screen, superheroes like Wolverine and Deadpool have a “healing factor” that allows their bodies to regenerate and recover from injuries or illness at an amazing rate – but certainly nothing like that is possible in real life, right?

Amazingly, a team of scientists led by John Pimanda, a hematologist and associate professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, published a study in Monday’s edition of the journal PNAS reporting that they had successfully reprogrammed bone and fat cells into induced multipotent stem cells (iMS) – the first step to making such a repair system a reality.

As they explained in a statement, stem cell therapies using iMS cells could theoretically repair a fractured bone or fix injured spinal discs, using a technique similar to how salamanders are able to regenerate lost limbs. These treatments could radically alter the field of regenerative medicine, and perhaps most surprisingly, the authors believe they could be available in just a few years.  The technique, which has been successfully tested in mice, “is a significant advance on many of the current unproven stem cell therapies, which have shown little or no objective evidence they contribute directly to new tissue formation,” Pimanda said.

Human trials could begin by the end of 2017

Read more at http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1113413468/stem-cells-regrowth-040516/#EvTOIPDBBg2QCgD3.99

NASA Announces Plans for New Medical Frontier Challenge

DATE: 3-4-13 LOCATION: Bldg. 7, SSATA Chamber SUBJECT: STB-ST-990 - Crew Training, SSATA ISS Increment 36 EMU Dry Run (Crewmember Luca Parmitano). PHOTOGRAPHER: Lauren Harnett


NASA is carrying forward its mission to reach out to new frontiers with the announcement today of plans for a “Vascular Tissue Challenge”, a $500,000 prize to be given to the team who can first develop vascular thick tissue that will lay the basis for treatments ranging everywhere from new tissue for burn victims to 3-D organ printing, and providing new organs for all who might need them, when they need them.

NASA has always reached beyond the limits of today. In the early 1960s, then U.S. President John F Kennedy issued a challenge to the science community to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth by the end of the decade. Think for a moment of the world in which President  Kennedy issued that challenge: less than 2 decades since jet propulsion had come into use, in which a journey to the moon seemed impossible. Only 60 years had passed from the first  Wright brothers flight at Kitty Hawk! But when Neil Armstrong laid the first human footprint on the moon’s surface on July 21st, 1969, the seeming impossible had become reality because forward-looking, brave men and women refused to accept false limitations in what they could accomplish.

Just as they did a generation ago, brave men and women at NASA and in the medical research community are looking forward to accomplishing what has been thought impossible: the creation of tissue and organs for all who in need.

As with the moon shot, what seemed a giant task is believed to be within reach.  To quote NASA’s website:

Developing this capability will enable new research initiatives that may bring real solutions to organ disease, skin burns and other medical concerns. NASA’s objective for this challenge is to produce viable thick-tissue assays above and beyond the current state of the art technology that can be used to advance research on human physiology, fundamental space biology, and medicine taking place both on the Earth and the ISS National Laboratory. Specifically, innovations may enable the growth of de novo tissues and organs on orbit which may address the risks related to traumatic bodily injury, improve general crew health, and enhance crew performance on future, long-duration mission.

NASA is inviting your feedback.  They would like to hear your thoughts on the rules, goals and competition parameters.  They would also like to hear the input of potential competitors for this prize as they look to move forward in the research and planning phase.  You can find the proposed rules and information HERE.

The Methuselah Foundation has the opportunity to work closely in the operation of this challenge.  Stay tuned for more in-depth information on what promises to be one of the most exciting medical prize challenges yet!

Be sure to look at projects the Methuselah Foundation has in progress!  Learn more about other Methuselah Foundation work including the Liver Prize,  our Bowhead Whale Study, the Methuselah Mouse Prize and more HERE.

The Organ Preservation Alliance: Conquering one of the World’s Biggest Age-Related Killers By Guest Writers Jedediah Lewis and Sebastian Giwa

The Organ Preservation Alliance, supported by the Methuselah Foundation and incubated at SU Labs at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, targets a neglected area of research and medicine underlying one of the world’s largest and most well-hidden killers: limitations in organ and tissue storage. Organ and tissue banking can have far reaching effects on treatments for major age-related diseases including Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Disease, while also accelerating the pace of medical research and serving as an enabler of tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and use of humanized xeno-organs. Technologies to cryopreserve and bank human organs and other tissues for use on-demand can prevent or delay millions of deaths each year worldwide – and make millions more patients, both old and young, healthier.

Just one example: roughly 30-35% of all deaths in the U.S. are caused by organ impairment, an end result of many of the most prominent age-related diseases and disorders including heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic liver disease, Diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Summing across all organs, organ impairment is the #1 killer in the U.S. – bigger even than cancer. Because of this, peer-reviewed publications have estimated that the ability to replace vital organs on demand would increase the likelihood of living to the age of 80 2-fold and increase the likelihood of living to the age of 90 by almost 20-fold while treating major causes of morbidity – adding healthy years or even healthy decades to millions of lives.

Giwa Graphic

Organ banking would have an immediate impact on numerous other aspects of organ replacement, preventing many organs from going unused or being discarded, increasing transplant organ lifespans (currently less than 10 years for many organs), preventing rejection by the recipient’s immune system, enabling technologies to better test organs or augment their function, and more.   

Organ and tissue banking has also been identified by many experts as a key barrier to advances in tissue engineering. It has already become one of the greatest bottlenecks in our ability to replace aged and dysfunctional organs and tissues with ‘spare parts.’ Cell therapy and other regenerative medicine solutions face their own storage constraints; these problems will only grow as more therapies come online, until cryopreservation and banking challenges are seriously confronted.

Yet despite the fact that over $50 billion in U.S. federal research funding each year goes to agencies with missions that are impacted by organ and tissue banking, almost no funding goes to this area. As a result, one of the cornerstones regenerative medicine has become an orphaned field, as promising research leads that could help control and stop biological time – enabling indefinite banking of organs and other complex tissues – have been left unexplored and rapid advances in complementary fields such as nanotechnology, cellular stress, metabolism, gene editing, and many others have yet to be adequately applied to tackle cryopreservation challenges.

The Organ Preservation Alliance is a non-profit organization that is partnered with New Organ, supported by the Methuselah Foundation and leading a growing effort to confront the grand challenge of organ and complex tissue banking. We are bringing together a large network of scientists, activists, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and government representatives to make storage limitations for human hearts, kidneys, blood vessels, and many other spare parts obsolete, saving millions of lives and accelerating progress toward extending healthy life. 

During 2015 our efforts resulted in the 1st Global Organ Banking Summit with events at Stanford, NASA, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where the world’s leading biopreservation scientists outlined the remaining ‘sub-challenges’ that need to be overcome to stop biological time in human organs. With our partner organization New Organ (also a project of the Methuselah Foundation), leading scientists and government funding agencies, we have begun a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored Technology Roadmap to Organ Banking and Bioengineering (for a copy, email jedd@organpreservationalliance.org). As a result of advocacy by the Organ Preservation Alliance and its larger scientific network, we have also seen multiple government grant pipelines launched targeted toward achieving organ complex tissue banking – a first in history.

We owe many thanks to the Methuselah Foundation for its generous support, and to New Organ for its continued collaboration, as well as its dedication to the cause of ending the organ shortage and thereby extending healthy human life.

To find out more, visit organpreservationalliance.org, check out the proceedings from leading scientists at the 1st Global Organ Banking Summit in the journal Cryobiology by visiting this link, or watch our short presentation here.

To volunteer or learn about other ways you can help the Organ Preservation Alliance transform regenerative medicine and other areas, email jedd@organpreservationalliance.org

To learn more about how you can support the work of the Methuselah Foundation, touch here

Episode 006 – Could Cryopreservation for Human Organs Save 700,000 – 900,000 Lives a Year?


Transplanting Organs

Join us on this episode of the Methuselah 300 Podcast as we interview Dr. Sebastian Eriksson Giwa;  co-founder and chairman of the Organ Preservation Alliance and co-founder and CEO of Sylvatica Biotech.  Dr. Giwa will discuss how Cryopreservation could transform and revolutionize transplantation Currently at least 1 in 5 people on the organ waiting list die due to the inability of keeping organs viable for transport, resulting in 700,000 deaths a year by some estimates.  Dr Giwa and his team want to change that…

The Defense Department, National Science Foundation and even the White House are beginning to recognize the need and potential of this scientific frontier , and scientists from around the world to an increasing decree are tackling the remaining challenges.  

Will you join us?  You can find out how to become a foundation supporter at  Mfoundation.org.

We thank you for your support now and in the future!


Methuselah Foundation


Could a New Approach to Alzheimer’s Move Us Closer to a Cure?


PRESS RELEASEDecember 16th, 2015

alzheimer photo

Leucadia Therapeutics and the Methuselah Foundation Announce a Partnership to Cure Alzheimer’s Disease

Leucadia Therapeutics LLC, a biotechnology company focused on treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease, and Methuselah Foundation, a public charity incentivizing innovation in regenerative medicine, today announced a joint partnership to develop a novel therapeutic strategy to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly, affecting over 5 million people in the USA. Affected individuals have difficulty creating new memories, and problems with language, mood and reasoning.  As the disease progresses, patients become withdrawn and bodily functions decline, leading to death within 3-9 years of diagnosis. No current drugs or treatments slow or halt the relentless progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Leucadia Therapeutics LLC was founded with the idea of taking a new approach to curing Alzheimer’s disease, using patent-pending technology to correct the cause of the disease rather than its effects.  The company will use this investment to accelerate development of novel therapy with the goal of beginning clinical trials in 2018. Leucadia Therapeutics Chief Scientific Officer, Douglas Ethell, Ph.D., said, “This is an exciting event for LT as it frees us from fundraising and allows us to focus our efforts on getting into the clinic as soon as possible.”

Under this agreement, the Methuselah Foundation has made an equity investment in Leucadia Therapeutics LLC.  Over the next 3-5 years, Leucadia will develop and test a novel therapeutic device to treat the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Will you join us?  You can find out how to become a foundation supporter at Mfoundation.org.

We thank you for your support now and in the future!


Methuselah Foundation

Episode 005 with Dr John Geibel; Yale University How Yale's Team of Researchers are Moving Toward 3-D Printable Organs


Faculty portraits
John Giebel, Director of Surgical Research, Yale University

On this week’s podcast, join us as we talk with Dr John Geibel, Director of Surgical Research and Professor of Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Yale University.  Discover how his team is working hard to develop the first iterations of 3-D printable organs, a goal that will revolutionize the medical organ industry and save thousands upon thousands of lives.

To keep up with the latest developments, join our newsletter HERE

To find out how you can be a part of the Methuselah Foundation and support our work, go to Mfoundation.org or click HERE

Methuselah 300 Podcast Episode 004: Is a Synthetic Liver on the Horizon? With Dr Bryon Petersen A Synthetic Liver Could Bridge the Gap Between Now and the Development of an Real Tissue New Organ

Could this device bridge the gap to new organs?

Join us on this week’s podcast as we interview Dr. Bryon Petersen, who is researching and developing a new device that could bridge the gap for those awaiting a new liver so that those in need can have a quality of life impossible for them now.  You’ll here about where he is in the stage of development, and what timeline he is working toward.

To keep up with the latest developments, join our newsletter HERE

To find out how you can be a part of the Methuselah Foundation and support our work, go to Mfoundation.org or click HERE


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