A few months ago, Liz Parrish at Biotrove Investments interviewed me about how we could help cure cancer with cryopreserved bone marrow.
It’s pretty simple really.
- Thousands of cancer patients need bone marrow transplants every year to survive.
- In 1988, the first cord blood banks started cryopreserving the same kinds of stem cells that are in bone marrow.
- In 2001, the FDA expanded their already broad mandate for bone marrow transplants – and separately allowed for the broad use of cryopreservation in medicine without seeking re-approval for already allowed procedures.
- Then in 2011, a federal court reclassified bone marrow as a blood product instead of an organ — making it immediately legal to buy and sell it.
- And yet, currently no one collects bone marrow from organ donors.
This is happening even though there’s a huge waiting list for bone marrow transplants and they’re one of the most profoundly powerful medical procedures that mankind can do. It literally lets you replace someone’s whole blood system… and immune system along with it. Since lots of diseases are related to the immune system attacking things it shouldn’t (or not attacking things that it should), bone marrow transplants would be an incredible new platform for medicine if not for the vanishingly small supply of bone marrow.
So the rush to cryopreserve bone marrow from organ donors must be huge now that it recently became legal. Especially since it has been known to be trivially technically feasible for 25 years, there are 1000’s of patients waiting for transplants, transplants are highly profitable procedures that are 100% covered by Medicare, and the market is nearly unregulated? Nope. No one is trying.
Instead, we continue to force leukemia patients to wait months for transplants while live donors undergo a grueling battery of tests just to confirm they can give. Due to this, lots of live donors back out. In fact, just last year Stanford professor Nalini Ambadi passed away after *six* different bone marrow donors backed out on her.
It’s a shame there are no investors ready to fund a company that could cryopreserve and bank hundreds of bone marrow samples. Even a relatively small bank with only 150 samples would have enough genetic diversity to provide suitable matches to around 50% of Americans. And unlike the live donor registry, which mostly only serves caucasians, a bone marrow bank that draws from organ donors would more closely match and serve all people… including people of color.
The current bone marrow transplant market in the US alone is $20 billion annually. The follow-on markets help cure the largest and most prevalent causes of death in the world.