One Million Dollar Prize to Build New Livers: The Race Is Officially On


Methuselah Foundation

The New Organ Liver Prize competition has been officially launched by the Methuselah Foundation with six teams competing. The Methuselah Foundation is a biomedical charity working to extend healthy life, which among other goals includes enabling a world where 90-year-olds are as healthy as 50-year-olds by 2030.

The winning team must figure out how to restore liver function in a large mammal (cow, pig, sheep, or rabbit) using regenerative or biotechnological means. The animals must live for at least 90 days with restored liver function. During the last 30 days of the trial period, the test animals must operate within +/-20 percent of their healthy weights and their regular mobility patterns, while eating their normal diets. The competition ends on December 31, 2018.

From the press release:

Initial teams represent scientists from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research, University College of London, University of Florida, University of Oxford, University of Pittsburgh, and Yokohama City University. Additional teams are under review and will be announced in the future.

New Organ Founder and Methuselah CEO David Gobel: "We are gratified to see the initial interest in the Liver Prize. We are doing this because of the millions who need new organs. Organ disease, and the associated organ shortage, represents one of the greatest medical challenges that can be solved. A scientific foundation has been built over the last 15 years to pursue the vision of organs on demand. It's time for a significant societal commitment to that vision."

The prize teams are led by:

? Dr. Tahera Ansari (Team Hepavive): Pursuing the 'decell-recell' approach to bioengineering a liver.
? Dr. Stephen Badylak (Team Badylak): A pioneer in biologic scaffolds using extracellular matrix.
? Dr. Eric Lagasse (Team Ectogenesis): Grew mini-livers inside the lymph nodes of mice with liver disease.
? Dr. Bryon Petersen (Team Petersen): An authority on the role of hepatic stem cells in liver pathology.
? Dr. Takanori Takebe (Team Organ Creative): Created tiny 'liver buds' that grew and functioned in mice.
? Dr. Basak Uygun (Team HepaTx): First to report proof-of-principle transplantation of engineered liver grafts.

Good luck competitors; now hurry up!