The human body is, in many ways, a perfect machine, a rich resource well worth a significant investment of time and research. One of the most fascinating recent discoveries comes from X-Prize and Singularity University founder Peter Diamandis. This new startup, called Celularity, has found that a key to unlocking regenerative medicine lies somewhere unexpected: human placenta.
Stem Cell Possibilities For Fighting Disease
The company is the result of a partnership with Dr. Robert Hariri, whose previous biomedical endeavor, Celgene, laid the groundwork for Celularity. The company’s aim is to use stem cells found within human placenta to regenerate human tissue and organs, a vital step in discovering cures for degenerative diseases such as cancer. The need for regenerated tissue has always been a staple in speculative cures, but the notion that our bodies may already house the very building blocks such a cure would need is a potentially game-changing discovery.
Placental stem cells are a unique bodily element, largely because they can be extracted from one body and injected into any other with no risk of rejection. In general, organs, tissue, and blood all come with a highly specific set of data that makes certain bodies a perfect match, and others the complete opposite. Placental stem cells are, according to Celgene, largely universal, and because they are so abundant, treatments are more affordable and can begin much more quickly than most others. Kidney matches, for instance, can take anywhere from five to ten years.
The startup has conducted several clinical trials which have resulted in the treatment of hundreds of patients, according to Hariri who spoke to TechCrunch about the companies big picture project. The next step, says Hariri, is to apply for FDA approval for the company’s treatments to be rolled out to the public, ideally within the next 1-2 years. If approved, Celularity would be able to procure placental tissue from hospitals that typically handle placenta as disposable waste, with some states even going so far as to treat it as an after-birth biohazard.
This is not the first time that companies have attempted to grapple with the ethical quandary of longevity research. Diamandis himself co-founded Human Longevity Inc. in 2014, a company whose sole focus was to engineer and extend the human lifespan. Stem cell research has long been a touchy subject, especially as there is so much fear around humans trying to play God. However, over the years breakthroughs have come simply as a result of auxiliary research, the most important of which was the discovery that adult stem cells can come from many different sources in the human body, the most obvious being a woman’s placenta shortly after giving birth.
Creating A Fountain Of Youth
Celularity has currently accrued $250 million in new funding from prominent investors, many of whom have made sizable inroads in the biotech world. However, Celularity has achieved the seemingly impossible, or could anyway. Celularity is a startup that creates a product or medical breakthrough might allow us to live longer. It has the potential to deliver the holy grail of human ingenuity, or at least the promise of something like it. Stem cell technology has been around for some time, but the presence of the private tech sector feels undeniably new. In many ways, the ultimate product, which is what companies coming to Silicon Valley are always pushing for, is one that can prevent that most natural inevitability: death. Celularity hasn’t come up with an immortality potion, but the medical developments coming out of their research has many wondering if they are not too far off.