New Organ Liver Prize Gathers Momentum

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Two New Teams Join Global Effort to Bioengineer a New Liver

New Organ, a collective initiative for biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine, announced today that two new teams have joined the field competing for the New Organ Liver Prize, a global competition sponsored by the Methuselah Foundation, a biomedical charity. The prize challenge will award $1,000,000 to the first team that creates a regenerative or bioengineered solution that enables a large animal to live 90 days without native liver function.

These two distinguished teams, led by Dr. Hiro Nakauchi of Stanford University/University of Tokyo and Dr. John Geibel of Yale University, join five others representing scientists and clinicians from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research, University College London, University of Florida, University of Oxford, University of Pittsburgh, and Yokohama City University.

“We’re thrilled that Stanford, Yale, and the University of Tokyo have joined this vital competition,” New Organ Founder and Methuselah CEO David Gobel said. “We launched the Liver Prize because organ disease, and the associated organ shortage, represents one of the greatest medical challenges that can be solved. With millions of people in dire need of new organs, and the scientific foundations now in place to pursue a vision of organs on demand, the time has come to solve the organ crisis once and for all.”

Dr. Hiro Nakauchi has been working on the challenge of generating functional organs from pluripotent stem cells since 2007. His team has been joined by Dr. Sheikh Tamir Rashid from the University of Cambridge and Dr. Takanori Takebe of Yokohama City University, prominent researchers known for their innovative in vitro culture systems for growing “hepatocytes” and “liver buds” from human iPSCs, respectively (Nature 2011, Nature 2013).

"Generating a stem-cell-derived human liver is one of the most pressing goals for regenerative medicine,” said Nakauchi. “Despite great advances in tissue engineering such as 3D printer technology and decellularized scaffolds, it has still not been possible to overcome this challenge. Our approach to organ generation uses as much of the natural in vivo environment as possible. We have therefore assembled an international team of liver experts at Stanford to exploit this platform in combination with other new in vitro based techniques to achieve our goal of human liver generation.”

Dr. John Geibel has over 30 years of experience in translational research, with broad expertise in physiology and pathophysiology.

According to Geibel, “The need for liver transplantation has always outpaced the number of donor organs available. When looking at new means to address this problem, the idea of developing a 3D-bioprinted organ is the first truly novel approach that will allow the patient to take cells from their own body to generate the replacement liver in vitro, dramatically reducing both transplantation wait times and the need for immunosuppression. This is what intrigued our team at Yale, and we are excited to develop a model that will be the dawn of a new age in transplant surgery and patient care.”

About New Organ:

New Organ is a collective initiative addressing organ disease and injury by building a prize portfolio and coalition of partners committed to advancing breakthroughs in engineering, banking, and regenerating solid organs, starting with the liver. It is a growing global network of academic, government, industry, and philanthropic stakeholders focusing on the common goal of organs on demand. The New Organ Liver Prize was launched at the 2013 World Stem Cell Summit with $1 million in initial funding from the Methuselah Foundation. Learn more at http://neworgan.org.

About Methuselah Foundation:

Methuselah Foundation is a biomedical charity working to extend healthy life by advancing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Methuselah has given more than $4 million to support R&D in regenerative technologies, including academic 3D bioprinter tissue engineering grants and founding investments in Organovo, SENS Research Foundation, and Silverstone Solutions. It seeks to enable a world where 90-year-olds are as healthy as 50-year-olds by 2030. Learn more at http://mfoundation.org.

About Institute of Competition Sciences:

The Institute of Competition Sciences (ICS) serves as the managing partner of New Organ, overseeing strategy, design, and operations. ICS specializes in large-scale incentivized innovation programs, having supported corporate, government, and nonprofit prizes totaling more than $9,000,000. ICS clients have included: NASA, Methuselah, Lemelson, Ideas42, Robin Hood Foundation, SETI, Goodwill, et al. Learn more at http://competitionsciences.org.

Media Contact:

Tyler Emerson
Executive Producer
(650) 353-6063
tyler.emerson(at)neworgan(dot)org

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