The Methuselah Foundation is one of the more important small non-profits involved in steering the near future course of aging research and human longevity. It is generally the case that the larger non-profits in medical research fund the status quo only, and so it is up to more nimble and driven organizations to make the status quo better - to really change the world, in other words. Organizations like the Methuselah Foundation and its core of dedicated supporters lead the way, change minds, and steer the broader community towards new and better directions more likely to extend healthy lives sooner rather than later.
It is worth remembering that, like the SENS Research Foundation, the Methuselah Foundation grew and established its presence due to the generosity of hundreds of donors of largely modest means. Their support helped to ensure the Foundation's important role in the sweeping changes that have taken place in the field of aging research and its goals over the past decade, shifting the leaders in the field towards open support for treating aging as a medical condition and the goal of extending healthy life spans. In the years since spinning off the SENS Research Foundation, the Methuselah Foundation has focused more on tissue engineering, but that is far from the only research activity funded and promoted by the Foundation staff.
A recent update on the activities of the Methuselah Foundation turned up in my in-box today, and I think many of you will be most interested to see that the Foundation is now funding a biotech startup effort to clear senescent cells and thus remove their contribution to degenerative aging. Senescent cell clearance is on my list as the most likely of the SENS repair-based technologies to be implemented first, even though funding is very limited for this area of research, as (a) there are a range of groups working on the problem or aspects of the problem, and (b) all of the various technologies needed to assemble a viable treatment either exist already or are very close to realization. It is good to see the Methuselah Foundation stepping in to support this field.
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. 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."
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 Program 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."
Exploring c60oo and Cancer Growth
Ichor Therapeutics, Inc., 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."