2014 was a year to remember. With a $10,000 Methuselah Prize awarded to Dr. Huber Warner of the National Institute on Aging’s Interventions Testing Program, the first six teams officially announced for the New Organ Liver Prize, and our first Organovo 3D printer awarded to the Yale School of Medicine, we’ve certainly been keeping busy.
Thanks to all of you, and especially to the passionate support of our many generous donors, we’re also looking forward to an impactful 2015. We’re still gathering more teams for the Liver Prize, exploring a possible New Organ Vasculature Challenge with federal agency partners, looking forward to the inaugural Organ Banking Summit in February, and much more.
We closed out last year by taking part in a successful $150,000 fundraiser for the SENS Research Foundation, and we’re ringing in the new one with a founding investment in Oisin Biotechnology (see below). We also look forward to sharing more illuminating conversations with you from around the world of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine on our blog, “The Bristlecone.” (In case you missed it, our most recent dialogue, with David Williams of TERMIS and the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, was a fascinating three-part excursion (part 1, part 2, part 3) through a wide range of key issues.)
Read on for more Methuselah news from the last quarter of 2014, and please don’t hesitate to stay in touch.
Warm wishes for a prosperous year ahead,
BACKING OISIN BIOTECHNOLOGY
The Methuselah Foundation has become a founding investor in Oisin Biotechnology, Inc, an early-stage company that aims to provide targeted biological solutions to degenerative aging conditions. We are also now represented on Oisin’s Board of Directors.
Initial research and development at Oisin will focus on controlled removal of senescent cells that underlie certain degenerative aging conditions. Both proprietary treatment protocols as well as proprietary methods for delivery of biologics to affected cells will be employed. Oisin is currently performing in vitro studies to confirm the expected mode of action of its therapy.
“We invested in Oisin,” Methuselah CEO Dave Gobel explained, “because of the promise of their highly targeted approach to removing senescent cells without causing collateral damage or side effects. To put it more colloquially, I like to think of this as ‘getting the crud out’—one of our key themes at Methuselah.”
We hope this founding investment will enable Oisin to establish proof of principle (does it work in vitro or not?). If it does work, we believe that Oisin will become extremely important in the field of longevity science—and provide us with a mission-aligned solution that is industrializable by harnessing infotech, biotech, and the body's own systems. We’ll keep you posted.
NEW FEDERAL GRANT PROGRAMS FOR ORGAN CRYOBANKING
We’re excited to announce that the Organ Preservation Alliance, one of New Organ’s partner organizations, has informed the development of three new federal grant programs by the Department of Defense targeting complex tissue and organ cryobanking for transplantation.
These three unique but complimentary “Small Business Innovation Research” (SBIR) grants, the first of their kind, will launch on January 15, 2015. Together, they could fund research for 20 or more U.S. teams, with strong candidates potentially receiving $3-$3.5 million across phase one and phase two awards.
Congratulations to the Organ Preservation Alliance for its critical role in this landmark moment for the undervalued field of cryopreservation.
BOWHEAD WHALE STUDY PUBLISHED
We’ve seen great news coverage recently of the bowhead whale research we funded at the University of Liverpool, and the full paper by Dr. Joao Pedro de Magelhaes and his team is being published in the journal Cell Reports.
According to Magelhaes, “The bowhead whale is the longest-lived mammal, possibly capable of living over 200 years. Thanks to generous support from the Methuselah Foundation, we sequenced the bowhead genome and transcriptome and performed a comparative analysis with other cetaceans and mammals. We found that changes in bowhead genes related to cell cycle, DNA repair, cancer, and ageing could all be biologically relevant.”
Next up for Magelhaes? Sequencing the genes of the Capuchin monkey….
EXPLORING c60oo AND CANCER GROWTH
Ichor Therapeutics, Inc. (LaFayette, NY), an exciting pre-clinical biotechnology company funded in part by Methuselah donors, is preparing to commence pilot studies to investigate the effects of c60oo administration on human cancer proliferation in vivo.
It has been theorized that c60oo may be a potent inhibitor of primary tumor growth or metastasis. Data about human leukemia growth rates in the presence and absence of c60oo is expected to pave the way for additional studies of c60oo's effects on a variety of tumor models.
"We are grateful to the Methuselah Foundation,” Ichor CEO Kelsey Moody said recently, “for providing much of the necessary funding for this project, without which this important research could not be completed."
Thanks, Kelsey. We look forward to seeing your results!