Xiaoxi Wei: Stem Cells Will Become Immortal

"We are allowing real biobanking for organs. No more organ shortage, no more wait time, and more lives will be saved."

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Imagine a spare heart for your body like you replace a flat tire by a spare wheel? That might soon be possible thanks to biobanks. But the problem is how to preserve the donor's organs to get them to the recipients in the very short time available. Xiaoxi Wei, founder of US nanotech company X-Therma, is presenting a cool solution copied from nature.

Wie wäre es, wenn man ein defektes Herz einfach ersetzen könnte wie man am Auto den Reifen wechselt? Das könnte dank Biobanken bald schon Wirklichkeit werden. Das Problem bestand bislang darin, dass man die Spenderorgane nur kurze Zeit bis zur Transplantation konservieren konnte. Xiaoxi Wei, Gründerin des US-Nanotech-Unternehmens X-Thema, präsentiert dafür eine coole Lösung, die der Natur abgeschaut ist.

Das Interview entstand am Rande des Zukunftskonkgresses 2016 des 2bAHEAD ThinkTanks.

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Autor: Timur Diehn
Produktion: Webclip Medien Berlin
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Transkript des Videos

We are allowing the real biobanking for organs. That means no more organ shortage, no more wait time, and more lives will be saved. Imagine one day if you have a heart disease or you have a cancer you can just walk into a biobank.

We can transplant kidney, liver, hearts and even penis, U.S. government has just, the U.S. has just had the first penis transplants, and allows a soldier to get a new organ and the resulting baby. So there's the revolutionary. But you know, preservation and our banking technologies are severely behind. That means that we have a huge organ shortage currently, so if you have organ failure in the U.S. you are automatically put on the wait list which is really a death list because currently the wait list is ten times longer than the donor list resulting in a one patient per hour death rate. And a lot of families lose their loved ones during this waiting process. Simply it's not because we don't have donors. Actually, in fact one patient, if you want to donate your body you can save eight lives. And there are so many people who have this great heart and sign up for donating their organs. However, because we don't have a way to really bank those organs we cannot preserve them. So up to 80 percent of the donor's organs are wasted.

At X-Therma we are developing non-toxic 10,000 times more effective anti-ice nano material to aim for transform and regenerate to medicine by offering biobanks from stem cells all the way to the organs. So that means that we can create organ banks and save millions of lives. 

This special material focusses on providing safe and effective preservation of stem cells. You know, stem cells as the most promising generation of medicine actually has become a booming market. So that means as a precision medicine you can apply the stem cells to certain patients and allow them to grow heart tissue and fix the injured tissues. So what we can provide actually is the way to preserve the stem cells to allow better logistics which means you have a way to deliver the drug from the donor to the recipient without the worry of the time limit. 

Nature has a solution. You know, in extreme cold like in the Arctic ocean some species like fish and insects need to survive in a wintertime without being frozen, so they developed a secret weapon called anti-freeze protein. So this protein is only produced in wintertime at a very small quantity which allows those species to survive without forming ice. So in fact they are like 10,000 times or 500 times, it depends on the species, more effective than industry standard we use as ethylene glycol. But they are not perfect because the purification process, the production process is extremely difficult, so the cost is so high, and so far in the world we don't have a reliable commercial resource. So that is our big challenge. How are we going to make this amazing natural product become more appliable for our purpose? So X-Therma actually came up with the revolutionary solution for that. So we combine the beauty of nature and a power of nanotechnology together to create the first non-toxic, green and cost-effective, hypereffective nano material to fight ice. So our material just like a born protein, and we take the lesson from the nature solution anti-freeze protein, the design, sequence, and then we came up with the biomimetic polymers which were born like the protein. They have the similar function and the sequence defined. More importantly, actually they are even better than the protein.

We're talking about this amazing natural product called the anti-freeze protein we can find them from different species, some from fish or insects or even fungae. They have different sequence, different size and different shape. But they have some design similarities. So we take a look at those 20 years research and find what is the secret coding for this protein. And we use our power for peptidomimetic polymers to mimic them. So we take the design into our own design and make a library of those materials. And we screen to see which one works best for the ice.

We are part of this big project called "The Organ Sediment", so governments aiming to get organ banking available in 2020. So we are the only chemical company in this team and actually we are at the stage to funding process. So at this stage we are first allowed polymer stemcells to be perfectly cryopreserved and provide a great efficacy. And then we can move to a large project working with Johns Hopkins top surgeons to transplant a mouse heart. So that means we can take a mouse heart from a donor and cryopreserve this heart with our solution for weeks or maybe months and then thaw it and retransplate that into a new mouse and see the heart rebeat with a new recipient again. So that will be revolutionary, and we are hoping to see that very soon.