A reader pointed me to the 700 for Science site a few days back. This is a vetted social network of research advocates and scientists with a medical and biotechnology focus, defining its own place on the spectrum that includes research crowdfunding, non-profit advocacy, and scientific fundraising for specific projects. The current project focus is similar to that of the Methuselah Foundation and New Organ initiative: driving the research and development community towards faster realization of tissue engineered, patient-matched organs. These organs will be created as needed and transplanted with minimal risk of rejection, as they are grown from the patient's own cells.
We are an international nonprofit organization comprised of research scientists, business and industry leaders, entrepreneurs and investors in early-stage technologies. Collectively, we are creating a community of experts willing to support novel biotech and clean technologies with real social value.
Early-stage technologies no longer qualify for research funds and because they generally still need to demonstrate proof-of-concept, they are often too risky to attract downstream money. As a result many technologies with significant social value are languishing. Our network of experienced commercialization experts can often help startups with small contributions of time and talent and, occasionally, funding from angel investors.
Our members select a core group of technologies from those submitted throughout the year. The annual Portfolio700 is announced in January. Throughout the rest of that calendar year, we identify and execute key activities that will help advance these technologies. Once selected, a technology remains a part of Portfolio700 - receiving support from the organization and our members - for three years.
The organization has set up separate web sites for the two collaborative projects currently published, both of which are worth a look. The current state of progress is that a summit will occur later this year and a research consortium is forming: the hard work of raising funds and coordinating research is to follow.
It is interesting that both 700 for Science and New Organ choose to focus on the liver as the first target for organ engineering: this most likely reflects the state of thought in the field as to which goals will be easiest or are presently closest to realization. The liver is the human organ with the greatest natural ability to regenerate itself, which might prove to be a head start, or it might not - we shall see.
Great technical challenges must be resolved if we are to engineer whole organs. On April 30, 2014, the world's recognized experts are gathering to form a transdisciplinary international scientific consortium. Our goal? To create a transdisciplinary, science-driven effort to engineer a human liver.
We're at a watershed moment in medical history. The world's top research teams are ready to focus on the goal of engineering a replacement liver for human transplantation. Now it's time to come together and forge partnerships to overcome daunting technical challenges. And since hard math is a part of any bold endeavor, we'll also determine the best strategy for leveraging grant-supported research.
We've conceived an ambitious agenda of research and policy-making initiatives aimed at solving the organ shortage. Now we're ready to begin. Research over the past decade yielded a flurry of information about the nature of adult stem cells, progenitor cells and their differentiated cell types. Then came the breakthrough discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells and progress has been breathtaking ever since. Now the research community is ready to use these cells to address the growing organ shortage and improve the quality of life for transplant recipients.
Advocating for replacement organs is the exciting part. Aligning with a broad-based constituency of organizations to create a comprehensive strategy to address the organ shortage will require a new level of resourcefulness. The mission of SOS is to anticipate needs, overcome roadblocks, augment the work of likeminded organizations and enlist allies who share our vision. Our work has just begun.