Patent Board science strength of biotech firms in WSJ

The Wall Street Journal Patent Board Biotechnology Scorecard was published this week in which biotech companies & private research firms are grouped by their Patent Board science strength ranking “which is based on the scale, quality, impact, and nearness to core science of a company’s patent-based intellectual property”.

What I found interesting at the first sight is Geron‘s nice position and the lack of Genentech. Also take a look on the charts and compare, say Illumina and Affymetrix or the research intensity/innovation cycle ratio in case of the same company.

Says my source, San Diego biased marketing expert Rick Cook in an in medias res email:

“Three of the top 10 science-based researchers, according to the rankings, are based in San Diego. Several other San Diego companies fall outside the top 10.
Nanogen, one of my clients, made the rankings. What’s particularly interesting about Nanogen — who competes against #1-ranked Roche — is that the company has by far the lowest market cap (just over $28 million) represented in the rankings. In fact, if you divide patents issued by market cap, which could be used as a proxy for size, Nanogen ranks number one — dollar-for-dollar the most innovative company on the list.”

Will JoVE’s new science blog service reinvent the genre?

JoVE pyrosequencingThe pioneer biological video publishing site JoVE (covered here many times) will soon launch a blogging platform and a community site. Nikita Bernstein, the main nerd behind JoVE is building the code and the platform – as Anne Kushnir informed me – should hopefully go live in the next couple of weeks. At least that is what can be known publicly.
The expectations are high and the JoVE guys (co-founders Moshe Pritsker and Nikita) themselves raised the bar with the quality and concept of video-protocols. As JoVE is a startup, not an established company with big inertia, they could be experimental but within the limits of their investors’ patience and money.

The real question for me whether JoVE’s blogging service can renew the genre of science blogging or at least bring a previously non-existing color into it? Points:

- Who will become JoVE’s first generation bloggers? Fresh blood? If yes what will be the source? Senior scientists, high school students, postdocs in the U.S.A., discovering the web?

- Existing bloggers who’d like to syndicate their content? Bloggers from Scienceblogs, Nature Network or from the DNA Network? Independent bloggers from outside theses established circles? Journalists? What will be the bait? For existing bloggers, who are tempted to commercialize their activity somehow the crucial question is whether they can generate any revenue out of this new platform? Will they be paid by traffic, and if yes how competitive are the tariffs? Is it possible to install paid ads, banners on the blogs and the bloggers could be paid based on pay per click methods just like Google AdSense?

– What about content rights? Exclusive, non-exclusive, et cetera? Would there be any topic restrictions? How can quality science blogging and credit is maintained in the long term? Continue reading

CIRM and NIH stem cell grants to the biotech industry

Different attitudes, same endeavors.

1. The folks at the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) started to offer grants for biotech companies up to $55,000 out of the 3 billion ‘hope’ dollars.

San Diego Union Tribune: Industry and academia team up:

For the first time in its three-year existence, the state taxpayer-funded stem cell institute is offering grant money to biotechnology companies….The stem cell institute wants to issue up to 20 planning grants to allow prospective disease-team members to hold teleconferences and travel to meetings around the state with potential collaborators to work out the details of how their group would function.

The idea is to form a team whose members have expertise in all areas of developing a drug or diagnostic – from the initial idea to testing it on animal models, producing enough of it for experiments and figuring out how it meets the needs of patients.

2. On the other hand, the NIH people in Bethesda, Maryland like the West and East Coast United Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) but not because the company’s single cell biopsy method for creating ethical ES cells.

Reuters: Advanced Cell Technology Awarded Grant from the NIH Continue reading

Web entrepreneurs and biotech: strangers from distant lands

Elrond: Strangers from distant lands, friends of old you have been summoned here to answer the threat of Mordor. Middle Earth stands upon the brink of destruction, none can escape it. You will unite or you will fall. Each race is bound to this fate, this one doom. Bring forth the ring, Frodo.
[Frodo puts the ring on a stand for all to see]
Boromir: So it is true. In a dream, I saw the Eastern sky grow dark. But in the West, a pale light lingered. A voice was crying, “The doom is near at hand, Isildur’s Bane is found.”
[Reaches for the Ring]
Boromir: Isildur’s Bane…
Aragorn: Boromir!
Gandalf: speaking the words engraved on the Ring] Ash Nazg Durbatuluk, Ash Nazg Gimbatul, Ash Nazg Thrakatuluk, Agh Burzum-ishi Krimpatul.
[the light darkens and the air rumbles; Boromir backs away from the Ring]

Let us form the first real alliance of BT folks and IT people through personalized genomics (and later with regenerative medicine as I hope so), but take care, biologists and geneticists have way too powerful tools and web entrepreneurs are greedily looking for new territory with their unconceivable computational and storage capacity and perpetual hunger! Go, go, push, push! (Of course, there is no such thing as an outside threat of Mordor in this situation, the real threat (the other side of the reward coin) as in every revolutionary case is the shared ambition of tech people to make formerly impossible things possible).

The following words are from Welcome to the Future:

Some analysts predict that the genetic-testing market 23andMe is entering could be worth a staggering $12.5 billion by 2009. Naturally, this has attracted the interest of Web entrepreneurs. They see an industry that is largely unregulated (so far) and costs only a few million dollars to enter—the price of a few brilliant programmers, a website, and marketing—and are betting that people will pay to test their own DNA directly. One indication of the potential market is that online medical-information companies are starting to make real profits. WebMD, for instance, attracts 40 million users a month and expects to net more than $30 million this year, mostly from ad sales. “I’m convinced there is an early-adopter market here,” says Sue Siegel, former president of Affymetrix and now a venture capitalist at Mohr Davidow. “Millions of people are used to getting health-care information online.” Continue reading

SENS3: The stem cell marketplace by Linda Powers, Tucan Capital (slides)

Linda Powers is the managing director and co-founder of Toucan Capital Corp, a $120 million venture capital fund (SBIC) focused on seed and early-stage life science and advanced technology investments (the fund markets itself as the The Leading US Investor in Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine). Out of here insights and facts presented on the SENS3 conference (I caught some of her slides with my iPhone, see below) I’d like to highlight the following ones:
- the anti-aging market today is approx. 42 billion dollars,
- the number of issued and published U.S. stem cell patents has been decreased for the first time since 2000 compared to the earlier year,
- viable business models in regenerative medicine are still missing,
- first-to-trial and -market is not always advantageous in regmed.

Are we really in the age of Regenerative Medicine 2.0? A comparison by Chris Mason

In the age of compelling technology analogies and nomenclatures it was unavoidable that somebody at last identifies enough differences in the history of industrial regenerative medicine to tell Regenerative Medicine 1.0 from 2.0. The man behind is Chris Mason, Group Leader of Stem Cell + Regenerative Medicine Bioprocessing Unit, University College London and cofounder and co-organiser of the London Regenerative Medicine Network (LRMN). His papers can be downloaded from his website and I advise to start with the one titled Regenerative Medicine 2.0, a term also abbreviated as RegenMed 2.0, but I would call it simply RegMed 2.0. The best way to focus on the differences between the 2 periods of RegMed is to show the comparative and quite exhaustive Table 1 made by Chris (in 3 screenshots). It is worth discussing his points and tenets and put the question: Are we really in the age of Regenerative Medicine 2.0 or the analogy with Web 2.0 is unestablished in many respects?

RegenMed1020

Continue reading

20 medical enterprises out of 100 fastest growing tech companies in 2007

Check out Business 2.0’s 100 fastest growing tech companies and read the excellent little summaries on the first 25 out of which 5 are medical related. In regenerative medicine LifeCell has a high position with competitors like Genentech (here think about the recent 23andMe story), Amgen Inc, Gilead Sciences.

20 fastest medical companies

BioTech(nically), Business 2.0’s new biotech blog

Business 2.0 Blog Beta Network‘s new blog BioTech(nically) was launched written by Marie Cannizzaro who says about herself in the intro post, March 27: “Before joining Business 2.0, I wrote for Dow Jones VentureWire and Stanford Magazine. I have a degree in Human Biology with a concentration in Biotechnology and Bioethics from Stanford University.”

BioTech(nically)

At the present moment, the blog is in an experimental condition, and it takes time for the blogger to form an idiosyncratic style with special topic selection and get a highly targeted stable audience. But as BioTech(nically) is a member of a very prestigious blog network of professional journalists, it is a superb advantage that could easily shorten the experimental period. Good luck to Marie and welcome to the emerging biotech blogdom.

Truth to be told: I would be really happy to do this biotech blog job for Business 2.0. In fact I did try to apply this job even when it was non-existing, but I was sure this fits into Business 2.0’s web and high tech focused profile. :) Here are some sentences from my pushy mail to Erick Schonfeld, from October, 2006 with the subject: joining Business 2.0 Beta as a biotech blogger: “I found the Business 2.0 Beta aggregator idea fascinating but what I really missed out of the blogs you have is an uptodate and cool biotech-regmed blog. Continue reading

Technological breakthroughs in Regmed according to a Global Strategic Business Report

Research and Markets has announced the addition of Regenerative Medicine – Global Strategic Business Report to their offering for EUR 3,407.00. Link

“This report analyzes the worldwide markets for Regenerative Medicine in Millions of US$. The report provides separate comprehensive analytics for the US, Japan, Europe, Canada, and Asia-Pacific, and Rest of World. Annual forecasts are provided for each region for the period of 2003 through 2010. The report profiles 107 companies including many key and niche players worldwide. Market data and analytics are derived from primary and secondary research. Company profiles are mostly extracted from URL research and reported select online sources.”

In this research focused industry I’d like to highlight the content of chapter 4 of the Business Report on technological innovations in regmed: how many of them have you ever heard?

4. Technological Innovations / Breakthroughs II-27
Biovest International Launches AutovaxID™ II-27
Stelic Institute Announces New Treatment Method for Acute Liver Failure II-27
TissueGene Initiates Phase 1 Clinical Trials for TG-C II-27
ISTO Announces FDA’s IND Approval for Neocartilage Graft II-28
Cook Biotech Introduces Surgisis® AFP™ Anal Fistula Plug II-28
Korean Scientists Make a Major Breakthrough in Stem Cell Lines II-28
Japanese Researchers Regenerate Jaw Bone II-28
Geron Researchers Differentiate Hepatocytes from hESCs II-29
Geron Demonstrates Potential of hESCs in Treatment of Parkinson’s disease II-29
Geron Researches Cardiomyocytes for Heart Disease II-29
Endovasc Announces New Findings at Texas Heart Institute Research II-29
Geron and Celera Genomics Complete Characterization of Active Genes in hESCs II-30
Rockefeller University Develops Solution for Maintaining Plupotency in hESCs II-30
Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer II-31
Manipulating Cells to Develop Tissue II-31
Terumo All Set to Regenerate Cardiac Muscle Tissues II-31
ThermoGenesis Innovates Bioengineered Cornea Cell Implant II-32
Organ Rejection Risk Minimized by Filtering Antibodies from Blood II-32
Regenerative Medicine for Acute Renal Failure Patients II-33
Tepha Develops PHA4400 Thermoplastic Polyester Biomaterial II-33
Regenerated Eye Transplantation Mastered in Tadpoles II-34
Investigations on Role of Microgravity in Regenerative Medicine II-34
Geron Researches Derivation of Neurons and Neural Progenitors from hESCs II-34
Continue reading

LabAction.com: new player on the science video niche market

Well, I am pleased to announce that we’ve just entered into an era of online scientific video sharing as there exists now a nascent niche market around. After the first mover JoVE (Journal of Visualized Expermients, covered many times here), LabAction.com was launched on 21st March 07 with as many as 3 biology-related videos. And I am more happy since one of my post had a little role as founder Ian Brown emailed me: “I read one of your blog on Science: video protocols can help to share the tacit dimension that appeared in October 06. It really inspired me to do a YouTube for LifeScientists. It took me quite some time to figure out what it takes to built a video sharing site but yes that was a good experience. I have recently launched a site www.labaction.com for sharing Biology videos.”

Ok, so LabAction is a definitely a YouTube-like video sharing surface, where everybody can upload their scientific related videos on protocols, products and so on. That means there won’t be any quality control here in contrast with JoVE’s editorial review process due to the novelty and required quality of video science publishing, but on the other hand LabAction could be popular because everybody can upload videos here. It could become a pop science site and for instance it may also be the place of high tech product adverstising, just like this cool microarray video ad, where at the turntable there is a guru made out of pipette tips scratching with a magnetic mixer, while eppendorf hiphop freaks are enjoying the perfomance of microarray built high tech break dancers.

labaction1

From Ian’s writeup: LabAction.com presents a portal where researchers can share the much needed information on essential steps of new protocols and techniques. Videos and commentaries on every aspect of biology ranging from basic molecular biology to complex protein microarray experiments or trickiest surgery could be made accessible using video formats. Continue reading

80 year old Lokey’s $33 million donation for Stanford Stem Cell Labs

LokeySuch a Californian story: Lorry I. Lokey, the founder of Business Wire will give a minimum of $33 million to help build a home for Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Lokey says: “The important thing to me is that stem cells might not only extend life, but also improve the quality of life, as so many people suffer in their later years,” said Lokey, who will turn 80 in March. “But I think stem cells will have applications across the entire life span.” Lokey’s contribution to the School of Medicine—its largest single gift to date from an individual—will launch construction of new stem cell laboratories on campus where scientists will probe the power of these elusive cells in treating conditions as diverse as cancer, stroke and diabetes. Lokey launched Business Wire in San Francisco in 1961 with $2,000 of his own money. It quickly grew to become a news industry powerhouse, now distributing an average of 17,000 corporate and academic press releases a month. “The biotech revolution has become so important to the quality of life,” he said. “To me, the biotech field is going to be very, very hot for the next generation.” Link

Disruptor candidate stem cell therapies

disruptorstem cellqStem cell therapies are likely to be disruptive treatments for the following medical sectors according to the Stem Cell Market Analysis Fact Sheet:

What is interesting in the following list: all the target tissues are of mesodermal origin.

Total knee implants: Stem cell therapies that repair worn articular or meniscus cartilage will delay and potentially reduce the need for total knee replacement surgery

Sports medicine: Stem cell therapies will extend the continuum of care for “weekend warriors.” It is highly likely that stem cell therapies will become the standard of care for torn meniscus or damaged articular cartilage

Heart muscle repair following heart attacks

Vascularization: To improve flow of blood by stimulating growth of new capillaries and vessels to the heart muscle

• Use of bone marrow transplants: stem cell therapies significantly reduce the effects of graft vs. host disease in patients with transplants.

• Treating the broad range of inflammation in the human body.

All American Stem Cell Companies = 1 YouTube = $1.65 billion

Did you ever think that the market value of all public stem cell companies is $1.655 billion, which is exactly (+5 million) the amount of money Google Acquired YouTube in a stock-for-stock transaction in October, 2006? This fact sheds new light on the maturity of the information technology and biotechnology markets. Let’s make hypes into proportion!

Stem Cell Therapy Market, US, 2005-2016: do you believe this?

This extrapolation is from the inforich and insider Stem Cell Market Analysis Fact Sheet of the 2nd Annual Stem Cell Summit, February 12-13 at San Diego, happening now.

stemcelltherapymarket

Other important facts concerning the Stem Cell Therapy Market in the U.S.: Continue reading

23andMe: the early bird of web based biotech startups

23andMe23andMe is a biotech focused web startup based in Mountain View, California (yes, the Googleplex neighbourhood) self-defined as an early stage startup developing tools and producing content to help people make sense of their genetic information. Our goal is to take advantage of new genotyping technologies and help consumers explore their genetics, informed by cutting edge science. Genome deciphering technologies have reached affordable levels, allowing consumer access. For the individual, such information will provide personal insight into ancestry, genealogy and health. For society, the collection of genotypic and phenotypic information on a large scale will provide scientists with novel avenues for research.”
Briefly, they are concentrating on the enormous genomics data we already have to analyze them for customers. They are probably right, because in biotech, genomics could be the first field that has enough results, easy measurement methods (a little blood or biopsies), infotech background and enough commercial demand to make the business profitable within 1-2 years. Unfortunately, regenerative medicine and the stem cells frontier are not in this position yet. The next business step could be monetizing data from proteomics, transcriptomics. With the promising combination of computer science, biology and informatics 23andMe is an early bird of a biotech-based web domain, because there will be times when all your genes, RNAs, peptides (and in my opinion: cells and tissues) will be taken into account by your initiative to know your future prospects, and a web-based service is a proper choice for managing all of your biodata. Security problems will emerge, of course.
Continue reading

Resveratrol goes to the clinic: a Pulitzer for David Stipp!

Truth to be told I am not really interested in the Resveratrol story neither as a researcher nor as a life extension supporter. First, it is about classical pharmacology, seeking the molecular targets of a relatively simple molecule back and forth, testing its effect on different animals with standard setups, no hint at a new type of research seeking for new methods, like stem cell biology, or tissue engineering. Secondly, it’s potential effect on healthy lifespan (more years to live, more tens of years?) is minuscule compared to a technological possibility, like systemic regenerative medicine which aims indefinite life extension via a continuous regenerative treatment, that fixes the physiological age. At least I was not interested in the story till David Stipp’s article in Fortune (19th of January), had not been published. Now I am interested in its science, its effect on life extension, its commercial consequences (Sirtris) and in the people behind that, like David Sinclair and Christoph Westphal. Stipp’s piece is a perfect coverage of the whole story through the details with an easily comprehensible and ingenious language. After reading the report I knew the author is not just a simply professional journalist.

Here are some exciting parts out of it (emphasis added): “You have to go back to the advent of antibiotics in the first half of the 20th century to find such broad therapeutic potential. …Most biotechs pioneering new science take years before testing drugs on people; Sirtris’s drug reached the clinic less than 18 months after the company’s launch….Westphal’s colleagues are accustomed to his daily barrage of e-mails, which begins around 5:30 a.m. “I must get 50 e-mails a day from him,” says Boston hedge fund manager Richard Aldrich, one of Sirtris’s founding investors. “He probably over communicates.” (Westphal says that over communication is a nonissue because “nobody reads my e-mails.”)… Continue reading

Bay Area biotech prospects through BayBio Chief’s lenses

baybio clusterInsightful, inforich and überoptimistic interview by David Morrill with Matt Gardner on the Bay Area and the broader Northern California Biotech Cluster. Gardner is the president of BayBio, an independent, non-profit 501(c)(6) trade association serving the life science industry in Northern California. Gardner helped author BayBio: Impact 2007, a new report in which he discussed the progress of the life sciences industry and the challenges that lie ahead.
Short summary:

- Bay Area specialities

In the Bay Area the biotech industry had a head start by expertise already built by earlier IT-driven industries, the Area’s specialities are the entrepreneurial atmosphere, a readiness and a tolerance for risk.

- stem cell research Continue reading

The first private company behind indefinite life extension: ?

Forget about governmental funds for a minute. According to you which companies have the chance to develop an indefinite life extension technology? Let us assume that even today there exists a company, or a predecessor of it which can eventually realize indefinite LE and customize it. Will it be a biotech company, like Genentech, Geron, ACT, or a big pharma, like Eli Lilly or an IT Giant from the other high tech sector, like Google? What are the institutional, financial, human conditions that must be suffice for that task?

What is your opinion? What is your bet? Why?

Valley Brats in Rolling Stone’s Tech Issue: trends in journalism (weekend off)

rollingwiredrossAnd now for something completely different! Sometimes life is just simply life for me without any extension. This is Life.exe. So at the weekends during the largely dead webtimes, I’ll blog about other things than stem cells, regenerative medicine, maximum life extension and biotech. This week offstory is a report, which shows the transformation of the now mainstream, once countercultural Rolling Stone magazine into a Wired-type Zeitgeist patterned techweb conglomerate. I bought the 16th November issue because it seemed like a Wired magazine by cover and content too: (inversely, look at the december Wired cover: it is Rolling Stone-like):

- coverboys and story are not the usual nice bodymaniac popceleb men&women but Colbert&Stewart

- blogs of musicians,

- long report on a radical idea by a planetary engineer to stop global warming,

- a big article with the title: The Baby Billionaires of Silicon Valley.

That is about the Valley Brats, the hidden power clique of under 30 übergeeks in the Bay Area, like Firefox main creator Blake Ross, Continue reading

Maximum Life CEO David Kekich: the investment strategy of life extension

David A Kekich is a heavyweight venture capitalist and investment expert. In 1999, he founded the Maximum Life Foundation, a corporation dedicated to curing aging related diseases. His LIVES™ financial strategy will finance davidkekichthe research needed to profitably develop life extending technologies. Kekich, who is also a lifestyle life extensionist, and very aware of current technological possibilities, answered the Pimm blogterview questions:

1. What is the story of your life extension commitment? I have basically committed all my professional efforts to help reverse aging within the next 25 years. My commitment was a by product of watching my parents relatives slowly deteriorate and die off due to aging related conditions. Life extension was also a strong interest of mine since my late 20’s, about 35 years ago. My total commitment happened as a result of a productivity and goal reaching exercise designed to show how much productive time I had left to accomplish my goals. My conclusion was, I needed to live longer.

2. Is it a commitment for moderate or maximum life extension? Maximum Continue reading

Maximum Life’s James Clement: what can a lawyer do for life extension?

James Clement is an attorney and serial entrepreneur. He is the Chief Operating Officer of Maximum Life Foundation which supports aging and life extension research with a mature and secure VC fund strategy (next blogterviewee, David Kekich, C.E.O. of MaxLife).

james clement1. What is the story of your life extension commitment? I have been interested in life extension ever since I first learned about death as a child. During school, I was always more interested in science than any other subject; but my high-school chemistry teacher was a political activist and encouraged me to study law and change “the System.” Unfortunately, it did not occur to me that I could actually practice life-extension research until I was in law school in the 1980’s, and read Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw’s “Life Extension Handbook.” I continue to read constantly in diverse scientific fields, especially regarding anti-aging and life-extension, neurophysiology, artificial intelligence, and space. I take about 40 to 50 pills a day, mostly from the Life Extension Foundation, which I believe is the premier vitamin/supplement company in the U.S. I joined the Maximum Life Foundation about a year ago as its Chief Operating Officer, and help its Founder, David Kekich plan and implement strategies for the Foundation to help facilitate anti-aging research.

2. Is it a commitment for moderate or maximum life extension? I am definitely committed to maximum life extension. I appreciate the views of Hans Moravec and others, popularized by Ray Kurzweil in his book “The Singularity Is Near,” that technological change is happening at an exponential rate. While too many people think that super longevity won’t be practical during this century, I believe my generation of Baby Boomers will be the last humans to experience involuntary aging and death from old-age.

3. What is your favourite argument supporting human life extension?Not only will the suffering of disease and aging be alleviated, but human society will be transformed by continuous learning, and a deeper appreciation for the value of life (human and animal) and the environment in which we live. Continue reading

Kevin Dewalt’s answers: technology professional, lifestyle life extensionist

Kevin Dewalt is an American technology professional, presently working at a VC. Kevin is a strong life extension supporter. We’ve met online at Baris Karadogan’s blog. I specially liked his “happy argument” for maximum life extension on the psychological level, see answer 3.

1. What is the story of your life extension commitment?

When I was 23 I discovered a book called “Optimum Sports Nutrition” by Dr. Michael Colgan. In it he presents arguments for lifestyle and nutrition changes that athletes could make to improve performance. The idea that changing my exercise, eating, or lifestyle habits could change my physical well being, health and longevity thrilled me and I began my quest. I began researching and learning about dietary supplements. At age 25 I became a vegetarian. At 26 I joined the Life Extension Foundation and have followed their recommended supplement scheme since. At 33 I began started a mild Calorie Restrition diet, lost 10 pounds and have remained on the diet. At that time I also began following the writing of Aubrey de Grey (blogterview here), Roy Walford, and others and realized that the only way I was going to be Father Time forever would be through significant advances in science.

2. Is it a commitment for moderate or maximum life extension? Continue reading

Sand Hill Road Venture Capitalist about life extension as business

There was a very interesting comment dialogue last week apropos of Aubrey de Grey‘s TED talk, and the host was Baris Karadokan’s blog called From Istanbul to Sand Hill Road subtitled High-tech, venture capital, creativity and innovation. Here are some details. Link

bariscomic

storytelling idea source

What would happen if Bill Gates invested 3 billion dollars to embryonic stem cell research?

beggarThere is a dense comment debate on Bodyhack for more than a week concerning the electoral Missouri Stem Cell Hunter issue, celebs with ESC pro- or contra ads.
Here is an effective comment from today’s related post by the commenter named Orrin:

“I wonder what would happen if Bill Gates invested 2 billion dollars to embryonic stem cell research and just got people to shut up. I’m sure there would be those who accused him of murdering babies while others would say that is still isn’t enough money.

Well, Bill Gates is now a full-time charity man, which makes him more attractive in the eyes of many people, comparing to the times when he was a chief technology officer or software architect at a company. It was in a William Gates III building, as I know from the the Google story, where the PageRank algorithm was born, for example. In the case of embryonic stem cell research, we do not really know the opinion of Mr. Gates, but I think this would be really a useful celeb opinion to know.

Interestingly the Gates Foundation has already put a little money, with 3 zero minus than 3 billion in embryonic research, but in China, not in the U.S.: Still, some billionaires have shied away from this science scrap. Bill Gates’ foundation, the largest in the world with $29 billion on hand, has put less than $2 million into research on human embryonic cells–at a lab at Peking University in China. Researchers there are implanting human cells in mice to look for better ways of making vaccines against aids and hepatitis C. A spokesperson for the Gates Foundation says the Peking researchers hit on the right idea; that the foundation hasn’t funded a single stem-cell test in the U.S., she adds, isn’t related to the anti-abortion fight.
So if Mr. Gates does agree with the purposes of embryonic stem cell research, than it is time to invest big bucks in it. Who knows, maybe this contribution could decide the debate in the U.S….

First full-time biotech employee at Google BioLabs

googattcopyHello everybody, let me introduce myself: I am the first full-time biotechnologist at Google Inc. (well, not really). My job at Google is fascinating: I have to plan and build a comprehensive regenerative database/map of the complete human body which will be the input of the ultimate human regenerative software. It is so, because in the long run, Google Regeneration Clinic will open its doors to offer a continuous regeneration treatment for its patients, aka partial immortalization or pimm. No surprise, that my nickname here at G is: the Pimmer. The aim of regenerative medicine is to regenerate all tissues and organs of the human body with the help of stem cells’ regenerative potential. Theoretically, if all tissues and organs of an adult body were regenerated once, then it could be regenerated two and eventually n times. This technological possibility is called partial immortalization.

Even my bosses do not really understand how the continuous regeneration treatment will work, but they placed their confidence in me. Although not being biotechnologists, they caught the brand-new concept of regenerative medicine, the science and technology built around stem cells’ regenerative capacity: the aim here is to facilitate and amplify or simply replace the native regenerative potential of the organism, the targeted tissue or organ. Regmed does not care about the causes and the detailed effects of the injury, but about the replacement, and the renewal of the damaged function.
So I have the tremendous opportunity to build Google BioLabs and thanks to the cooperation with California Institute of Regenerative Medicine our new experimental lab is about to open. What we need: smart geek biotechers, engineers and 20 years of masturbatory intensity of concentration (the words of Michael Chabon) to fulfill the task. What we already have: the money, the most innovative corporate environment and the lifetime commitment.
Questions for the would-be Google BioLabs members
(but I promise there won’t be 7 interviews for 14 hours with 28 Googlers):

1st With an ordinary FACS machine, how long does it take to count 10-100 trillion cells which is the order of magnitude of the human body?
2nd: Delineate a non-invasive method capable of counting so many cells within a day.
3rd Design the algorithm of the consecutive order of complete tissue and organ regeneration.

Yet another industrial stem cell alliance: Aldagen meets IMT

From PharmaLive: Aldagen, Inc. and Innovative Micro Technology (IMT) today announced that they have formed an superbatalliance to co-develop and commercialize a version of IMT’s Rare Cell Purification System, customized specifically for clinical cell therapies. This system, called the ALDESORTER(TM), will be used with Aldagen’s ALDESORT(R) product and is designed to isolate unique stem cell populations for the treatment of chronic heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, leukemias, genetic enzyme deficiencies and other diseases. The first ALDESORTER is scheduled for completion in early 2007, with clinical trials planned to begin in late 2007. Link

The isolation method of stem and progenitor cells is based on the elevated expression of an intracellular enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). Stem cells have been isolated from almost all tissues, and an emerging idea is that they share common characteristics out which high aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity is one candidate, raising the hypothesis of a set of universal stem cell markers.
Anyway, this whole regmed biotech industry field is in a big hurry now, I can hardly report the exciting news. And if you can not see the forest for the trees just think about that for all the regmed companies in the world there is only one direction and Partial immortalization(=time) is its only measure. :)

(First post using the Windows partition of my MacBook. Not very comfortable.)

Image source

Stem Cell Company’s Merger with a Cosmetics Company

As I mentioned before, continuous regeneration treatment of the whole human body called Pimm could be interpreted as inside plastic surgery for functional reasons. And now here comes one nice example of the present biotech trend: Continue reading

U.S. stem cell companies: a new roundup

From Investor’s Business Daily: Big pharmaceutical firms and major biotechs are holding back as well, William Caldwell CEO of Advanced Cell Technology says. “While all of them have stem cell development labs someplace in the bowels of their organizations, they are not putting capital into the sector.” These companies are nervous about the political and ethical climate associated with the science, he says. The same holds true for venture capital firms. “VCs will take any risks — except political,” Caldwell said. Despite the political fallout, there’s plenty of research going on. Plenty of companies are trying to turn the stem cell therapy business into a success.
StemCells, which develops therapeutics to treat damaged or deteriorating organ systems, has followed a path away from embryonic stem cells in developing a treatment for Batten’s disease, a rare genetic disorder in children that is always fatal. Using nonembryonic human stem cells, the firm is about to launch a phase one trial on six children.
aastromTargeting Batten’s might seem odd, considering that as few as 600 Americans suffer from the condition. But StemCells Chief Executiveosiris Martin McGlynn says doing so is the best way to make use of available money and leverage the technology into other diseases. The challenge is convincing others, including Wall Street, of the long-term payoff. A handful of firms are moving into various clinical-trial phases. Aastrom Biosciences is running a phase two trial of its bone repair technology based on adult stem cells. Osiris Therapeutics has a phase three trial of its stem cell drug for a life-threatening immune condition that can hit cancer patients after a bone marrow transplant. ViaCell is monitoring subjects who received its stem cell treatment for post-chemo-radiation blood cancer patients. Thviacelle stem cells in the phase one trial came from umbilical cord blood.

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Human Egg Market: the naked truth

Deep story by Kerry Howley, associate editor of Reason Magazine, aka “Donor #15” who sold 12 ova to a pair of strangers for howley $10,000. From the story: By the mid-1980s, babies were being born via donated eggs that were fertilized outside the womb and later implanted in women incapable of producing viable ova. If you can imagine a scenario involving IVF-related technologies, chances are it has already taken place. The once-hypothetical fears of bioconservatives are now walking and talking human beings, but the debate over the ethical implications of such children is still oddly abstract. “It is argued,” states a 2002 report by the President’s Council on Bioethics regarding the commercial trade in human, “that we stand to introduce a commercial character into human reproduction, and to introduce commercial concerns into the coming-to-be of the next generation.” If that is the risk, we’re already running it, because the market in eggs, sperm, and reproductive technology has never been larger or more accessible. Selling ova to another woman is at once impossibly intimate and wholly impersonal, a connected but highly distributed process of exchange. It is a transaction well suited to the Internet, which tends to provoke uninhibited sharing among strangers cloaked in anonymity. … Link

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Human embryonic stem cell research historically and presently (see previous post1 and post2) is heavily depended on In Vitro Fertilization-related reproductive technologies, as most of the existing and established hESC line came from IVF surplus embryos. One kind of anti hESC argument originated from anti IVF agruments.

$16Million Israeli fund for anti leukemia treatment StemEx

$16-million round of financing goes for Gamida Cell to bring StemEx, a treatment for leukemia and lymphoma to the gamidatevamarket. From Red Herring: The funds will be used to expand the Israeli stem cell startup’s pipeline and bring products to market. …The company reported extremely favorable clinical results from phase I and II studies of umbilical cord blood highly enriched with stem cells. If all goes well, the company plans to begin marketing StemEx in 2009 in partnership with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Israel’s largest drug company and an investor in Gamida Cell. Link

Crucial here is the cooperation of a stem cell biotech startup with a Big Pharma Giant. It is a whole new phenomenon.

Logo sources: Gamida, Teva.

PayPal founder’s $3.5 million support goes for life extension purposes

From SFGate: Peter A. Thiel, co-founder and former chief executive officer of the online payments system PayPal, announced Saturday he is pledging $3.5 million “to support scientific research into the alleviation and eventual reversal of the debilities caused by aging.”
The grant goes to the Methuselah Foundation a nonprofit volunteer organization founded by Aubrey de Grey, whose SENS is an engineering proposal to fix ageing-related problems and reach indefinite healthy lifespan. Of course, this amount of money is not enough to solve the problem, just compare it to the $3 billion of Proposition 71 for stem cell research funding in California, where the annual limit is $350 million. Proposition 71 provides General Fund loan up to $3 million for Institute’s initial administration/implementation costs. But the $3.5 million comes from one wealthy man, and the 3 billion comes from a very wealthy state.

The grant marks well Bay Area IT entrepreneurs’s and venture capitalists’ growing interest in biotechnology and bioengineering. Take a look at a previous post here: Google’s coming out in biotech: when and why? IT entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley will be the eventual financial engine behind maximum life extension. They’ve got the money and the desire. Would you like to bet? IT money in BT business: sounds like the pattern of the future. Consider Arthur D. Levinson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Genentech, the most successful biotech company in the U.S., who serves on the corporate boards of Apple Computer and Google. Congratulations for the grant, I hope that valuable experiments will be backed by that. With stem cells too.
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Google’s coming out in biotech: when and why?

When and for what reason will Google launch a biotech business, and why regenerative medicine?

It is a big pagecoatquestion what kind of company Google Incorporation plans to become beyond the core search engine and ad business. Google is a geek company founded by two extremely talented IT nerds. My guess is that for Google the logical extension of its tech savvy philosophy is to start some biotech enterprise in the next ten years to come. Why do I think so?

First there is an original interest for biotech in G, we have the Venter story which was criticized by many. In The Google Story David Vise wrote about “ambitious long-term plans for Google’s expansion into the fields of biology and genetics and the fusion of science, medicine, and technology.”

Second, tech investment and development is near to a turning point. In the June Business 2.0 Magazine there was a list of the 100 Fastest-Growing Tech Companies out of which the first ten is worth considering a little bit. techcomp.png

Five out of these top companies – Celgene the first, Palomar Medical Technologies, LifeCell, Gilead Sciences and Clinical Data are positioned in the Medical sector. The other five are distributed between Software, Electronics and Business Services sector, but the infotech umbrella term could easily be applied to them. The medical five are biotech enterprises not big pharmas, like GlaxoSmithCline or Novartis. No surprise, that it is a hidden trend in the Valley, that succesful IT entrepreneurs invest into BT start-ups. The statistics refer to an emerging phenomena not just in the Valley, but all the techhubs in the world, a phenomena, that deserves detailed discussions.
Third, and most importantly biotech is the next big thing in high-tech. The future of high tech is the perfect combination of its two main sectors, BT and IT. This creates not just a permissive but a highly supportive environment for new BT start-ups. Highlights its actuality. Biotech’s potential to transform human culture in all its segments is bigger than any other known technology. Red or medical biotech, which accounts for some 86% of all biotech companies is able to transform human beings in a way other technology could not. The most promising area of red biotech is regenerative medicine. Biotech is the next big thing in the overall tech sector, and consequently the next big determinant of the world.

And what business fits better with the long term strategy of a company, which aims to organize the world’s information ever, than maximum life extension, the ultimate and unlimited business enterprise which would be no other then prolonged regenerative medicine? So my guess is that Google will start some kind of biotech business in the next, say 10 years, and its focus area will be tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Good luck, brothers.

Partial immortalization: the ultimate business enterprise

What makes a business huge? If you’ve got a terrific product or service in your hand, there is a constant demand for it and the range of the potential customers is always rising. Now it is my pleasure to claim that partial immortalization is the ultimate business enterprise in every respect: in the long run the service time could be extended unlimitedly, and potentially every adult human being above a threshold age, say 30, could be a client. Think about it: regeneration of the whole human body inside out is no other, than inside plastic surgery for functional reasons.

The only thing is back is just to make it real.

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Maximum life extension: product and serve

Pimm as business would be a product or a service? Well, if there is one integrated process or technology, which can offer for his customer a complete continous regeneration treatment, then it is obviously a service. But behind this service there must be numerous products ready before the treatment: all the tissue engineered organs, tissues (liver, heart, muscle, kidney, lung, vasculature…), all the stem or progenitor cell types of differentiated cells (more than 200 type), and all the extracellular matrix environment (collagen, elastin, proteglycans…) which are needed for a complete regeneration of an adult human body.

So, on the service level, there would be doctors, nurses who will manage the regeneration treatment, and on the product level there would be biotechnologists, bioengineers who make the organs, tissues, cells, molecules.

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