Monthly Archives: December 2010

The main result of the year – The first regenerative medicine surgery in Russia

paolo macchiarini, tissue engineering, tissue engineered trachea, regenerative surgery, mikhail batin, russian academy of medical scienses, petrovsky center of surgery, regenerative medicine in russia

For the Science for Life Extension Foundation the main result of the year was the first in Russia unique transplant surgery of a trachea grown from the patient’s own stem cells inside her body. The surgery based on Professor Paolo Macchiarini’s technique was carried out in December in the Petrovsky Research Center of Surgery of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in Moscow.

The Foundation spent a full year and a half in order to bring this technology to Russia. We fully financed this project and organized the work between all the collaborators – Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Petrovsky Research Center of Surgery, Careggi University Hospital in Florence, pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of biomaterials. The total cost of the project was $330, 000.

Last summer when we learned about the unique surgeries done by Macchiarini, we went to Barcelona where he was the Head of the Thoracic Surgery Department in the Hospital Clinic. We agreed to have him visit Moscow to share his experience with Russian specialists. In February 2010, Paolo gave a master class in the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. It was at that time when an agreement was reached on introducing his technique in Russia.

In August 2010 Macchiarini came to Russia again to sign the research and clinical collaboration contract with the Petrovsky Research Center of Surgery. Earlier this fall the Foundation organized the training for the employees of the Petrovsky Center  in the Department of Regenerative Surgery and Bio-transplantation at the Careggi University Hospital in Florence, where Professor Macchiarini is the current department head.They studied the process of trachea preparation for transplantation and could watch the surgery live.  Previously, there had been seven other tissue engineered trachea transplants that were performed  in Western Europe and none in the US.

So, on December, 7 such a surgery was carried out in Moscow. The patient was a 26-year old woman. In 2006 she was hit by a car where she sustained very serious injuries, went through a clinical death and stayed comatose for several months. She was unable to breathe on her own and had a tube in her trachea for a long time. As a result the trachea was damaged.  Doctors in Kazakhstan, Israel and China couldn’t help the girl breathe normally. She required constant medical attention and was forced to permanently live in a clinic with frequent surgical interventions..

Then the patient’s mother took her to Moscow, so that she could undergo surgery using Macchiarini’s technique. The technology is as follows: a trachea taken from a dead donor is treated with special compounds until there’s no donor cells left, which elliminates the rejection problem and there’s no need to supress the patient’s immune system. Before the transplantation, the obtained scaffold is treated with the patient’s bone marrow cells and also cells from the mucosa, so that the inner mucosa of the treachea can be formed afterwards. Plus the growth factors are added. There’s also a biodegradable stent placed inside the new trachea. The patient’s body in this case plays a role of the bioreactor, inside of which the new healthy organ is formed during a couple of weeks.

Right now the patient is ready to be discharged – she can talk, breathes much better, is able to walk and undergo a physical load.

This surgery is a great beginning to the implementation of regenerative medicine technologies into human clinical practice. These technologies provide a wide perspective for treating severe illnesses associated with loss of vital organs and tissues and also has let Russian research and clinical institutions become a major player in the international consortium for regenerative medicine.

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Attention Bill Gates: Aging is the biggest problem in global health – Divert your grant money to where it will have the greatest impact

5 Years ago Bill Gates decided to seek out proposals from the world’s top scientists. He wanted these scientists to submit their ideas for tackling the biggest problems in global health. About 1,600 proposals came in and he chose 43 that he felt were the most promising. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ended up dishing out $450 million in five-year grants — more than double what he originally planned to give.

Now the five years are up, and the foundation recently brought all the scientists together to assess the results and decide who will get further funding.

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Proof on the existence of Santa Claus

1. Santa Claus exists, because ‘so it is written in the Book’.
2. Those who don’t believe that Santa Claus exists actually do believe in the inexistence of Santa Claus. So these people are the same believers, but they don’t have any proof of the absence of Santa Claus.
3. Millions of parents all over the world can’t lie to their kids making them believe in Santa Claus.
4. Santa Claus is gracious, therefore not only the kids from wealthy families get good presents.
5. Santa Claus is just, therefore many children in Africa, Asia and Russia who suffer from hunger, sickness and sure death, have HOPE. All they need is to believe in Santa Claus.
6. Accusations against the retail industry for promoting Santa Claus are groundless, because the stores have Christmas sales to help children, exactly as Santa Claus is teaching.
7. Santa Claus created Christmas holidays and we have to be grateful for that.
8. Any uneducated man can state that it’s impossible to create the complicated production of Christmas presents without the miracles of Santa Claus.
9. Followers of Santa Claus and followers of Father Frost often killed, are killing and will be killing each other, but Santa Claus is innocent. It’s just that it’s wrong to believe in Father Frost, this offends Santa Claus. It is righteous to believe in Santa Claus and give away life for him.
11. It happens so that the followers of Santa Claus – men, who put on the sacred costume of Santa Claus, rape children. It is obvious that it’s not Santa Claus’s fault, because it’s the people who are doing that. Moreover, these men used to be children themselves. Therefore, it’s the children’s fault.
12. Santa Claus justifies death by his own existence, because there are Christmas presents, so there’s no need to worry about anything else.

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Methuselah Foundation needs your input

From the Methuselah Foundation Blog, a message from founder and CEO Dave Gobel: “It has been a while since I sent you an update and there is plenty of good news to share as we work together towards longevity. I also want your input as we make plans for the coming year. … Methuselah Foundation has successfully promoted the extension of healthy human life – the science of aging has gained acceptance and broad-based support thanks to your ongoing contributions. Now we are strongly supporting science that will lead to tissue engineering and organ regeneration. We will be the catalyst to speed up the development of organ replacement. … I am continually delving into every area of science, the work being done in universities, labs and biotech companies, to see the latest research and how it might contribute to longer life. I am convinced that there are many viable solutions but we, uniquely, are in a position to move them to a practical place. With this mission in mind we created the NewOrgan Prize. Based on our success with the Mprize, we anticipate this new prize will accelerate the rate of research and bring us closer to practical solutions. … We must continue to accelerate practical scientific solutions related to aging. You and I – not just our children and grandchildren – should benefit from the advances in tissue engineering that are already on the table. This is why I need your input. We are contemplating a number of initiatives in support of this drive but we want to have the greatest possible impact. I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. Please continue reading and I believe you will have a clear understanding of the potential and, hopefully, will have some thoughts to share.”

You can read the rest of the post and if you have opinions and good ideas, send them to the Foundation.

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Poll – If You were an Investor, What would Influence Your Decision Most as whether to Fund a Certain Project or not?

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Dave Sharp: Study shows Rapamycin extends life in mice

A year ago the Methuselah Foundation presented a special Mprize Lifespan Achievement Award to Dave Sharp for his work with rapamycin. Science, Nature and TIME magazines each featured rapamycin – an antibiotic used in transplant patients that extended the life span of aged mice – as a significant and exciting scientific breakthrough.

More recently, Dave Sharp has announced that a second replication of the life span study has been repeated with the same results.

The drug, called rapamycin or sirolimus and marketed under the brand name Rapamune by Wyeth, suppresses the immune system but also fights inflammation, which underlies cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and a range of other ills.

“Rapamycin may extend lifespan by postponing death from cancer, by retarding mechanisms of aging, or both,” David Harrison of The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine and colleagues wrote in their report, published in the journal Nature.

The researchers at several U.S. centers fed rapamycin capsules to the mice daily starting at the age of 600 days, an age equivalent to 60 years old in humans.

All the mice lived longer, they reported. Some lived as much as 55 per cent longer, but the effects varied.

“We believe this is the first convincing evidence that the aging process can be slowed and lifespan can be extended by a drug therapy starting at an advanced age,” said Randy Strong, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, who worked on the study.

Read more about the findings that could help researchers find better ways to fight the diseases of aging and perhaps the process itself.

Here is a video presentation of Dave Sharp receiving his MPrize award for rapamycin.

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Hormesis: How Harmful Can Be Beneficial

Hormesis is the stimulating effect of moderate stress – low doses of toxins, temperature, radiation and other stressors that are toxic in larger doses. Moderate stresses are known to slow down the processes associated with aging and to increase life span. The author is Professor Alexey Moskalev.

Download the Hormesis chart in pdf

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