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?
There 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….
A study at the University of Queensland, Australia examined community attitudes to the extension of life headed by project Research Manager Dr Mair Underwood (left): Dr Underwood said the most important consideration was quality of life as participants did not want to spend their extra years in a nursing home. But study participants also mentioned other considerations such as:
• Would their loved ones be extending their lives too?
• What financial support would they have, and would they be extending their working lives rather than their retired lives?
• How would we decide who could extend their life? Would it just be those that could afford to do so? Link
Here are my answers concerning the most probable possibility of introducing life extension into real life at the first cost stage, when the costs of the treatment are very high:
quality of life: It is hard to imagine, that anyone wants to live long with a continuously ageing condition, losing gradually vital functions (of course we do not want it, this is not a Swift story), instead we want first to fix the ageing process, so that the biological age of the individual can remain constant, and his metabolism and energy household normal. Really different parameters.
loved ones: well, the decision to participate in a life extension treatment could be a family decision and it will depend on the family budget at the outset.
financial support, working life: Any serious concept of maximum life extension is about fixing your physiological age in a working and healthy state, so you can support yourself and you must when the costs are extremely high, because the state obviously cannot guarantee it.
who would decide, who could extend their life? It is my first question considering how to protect the right for pimm when the costs are extremely high. Well, in a liberal democracy the principle of equal dignity require us to make the treatment possible for those, who can afford it, because immortalized persons are rational moral persons too, and forbidding their participation in the treatment would degrade them as morally inferior ones. The continuous regeneration treatment called pimm will be permissible to those who can buy it from the same reason. If the treatment would not be permitted to them, this would violate their right to self-determination, and their right to self-determination cannot be legitimately interfered with.
We really have to modify our intuitions, we have to learn thought experimentation if we want to catch the idea of maximum life extension.
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. Targeting Batten’s might seem odd, considering that as few as 600 Americans suffer from the condition. But StemCells Chief Executive 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. The stem cells in the phase one trial came from umbilical cord blood.
Deep story by Kerry Howley, associate editor of Reason Magazine, aka “Donor #15” who sold 12 ova to a pair of strangers for $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
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.
Is Amatokin the first product to harness the potential of your own stem cells to reduce serious wrinkles? From Businesswire: This “super-secret” wrinkle cream, called Amatokin, is not really a cream at all, but a “highly efficient ‘barrier-neutral’ emulsion” containing a unique polypeptide compound (known in official circles as polypeptide #153). This meta-peptide was developed 62 miles north of St. Petersburg, Russia in a high-security lab . The original goal was to find a better way to help burn victims heal, but the real money is in harnessing the power of stem cells to renew old skin and make it young. … Amatokin is the most controversial anti-aging skin cream in more than three decades. …While the public debate rages about the use of stem cells from fertilized human eggs, most people don’t realize that human skin is the largest repository of stem cells in the body. …If Voss Laboratories succeeds in bringing Amatokin to the American market for a price of under $200 for a 30-day supply, industry sources say Amatokin could be the most sought-after formula to ever hit the “anti-wrinkle, anti-aging market.” Bottom line: The ability of Amatokin and stem-cell science to deliver wrinkle-free skin remains mostly rumor – but a very persistent one. Link
Ok, it is one thing to use a polypeptide or a mix of them to make the endogenous, natural born skin stem cells move and divide and regenerate, but to put exogenous stem cells into a cream as a compound: that is a completely different project. For the latter you need to glue the cells somewhere with something (gelatin, colloid emulsion?).
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.
When and for what reason will Google launch a biotech business, and why regenerative medicine?
It is a big question 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.
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.
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.
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.