Methuselah Foundation, a medical charity, has announced, at the World Stem Cell Summit in San Diego the official launch of the $1 million New Organ Liver Prize (www.neworgan.org), a five-year international competition to advance the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
The New Organ Liver Prize is the first in a series of whole organ challenges and awards designed to help solve the global organ shortage, which affects millions of people around the world. There are presently over 120,000 on the organ wait list in the U.S alone, many of whom will die before finding a compatible donor. Even those fortunate enough to receive an organ in time face ongoing medical difficulties, often for the rest of their lives.
New prospects for whole organ regeneration, engineering, and preservation offer potentially powerful solutions to this health crisis, but tissue engineering research is currently underfunded, receiving less than $500 million annually in the U.S. compared to $5 billion for cancer and $2.8 billion for HIV/ AIDS. Neither the NIH nor the NSF provide significant funding for whole organ tissue engineering, and the field also suffers from difficult regulatory hurdles as well as broader shortfalls in biotechnology investment for pre-clinical research.
Methuselah Foundation CEO David Gobel commented, ”Regenerative medicine is the future of health care, but right now the field is falling through the cracks. The New Organ Liver Prize is a celebration of how far we’ve come in organ transplantation to date, and a rallying flag to mobilize the funding and attention required to take it to the next level.”
Bernard Siegel, founder and co-chair of the World Stem Cell Summit and executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), said, ”Growing a whole, healthy organ is one of the ultimate goals of regenerative medicine. The world stem cell community enthusiastically supports the ambitious aim of the Methuselah Foundation in launching the New Organ Liver Prize and the mobilization of this competitive challenge for researchers to cure disease and alleviate human suffering through tissue engineering.”
Due to the complexity of defining strong competition criteria for each of the solid organs, including the heart, kidney, and lungs, this prize will focus exclusively on tissue engineering solutions that replace the liver. Ultimately, the Methuselah Foundation intends to develop a prize series that covers all of the major solid organs, and that spans multiple strategies, including organ regeneration, repair, replacement, and preservation. Through its New Organ Alliance, Methuselah also hopes to mobilize other granting institutions to allocate additional funds in support of teams competing for the prize.
Florina Linco, Community Director, Methuselah Foundation, (206) 643-8175,