BioTime Cracks the DNA Cell Command Code

I apologize for the headline. As a writer, I know it’s too long. It breaks all the rules of style and aesthetics. Some things, however, are more important than aesthetics – such as life-saving fortune-creating science.

I am honestly staggered by the advances being made by science in this field. There are times that I seriously regret having put myself into the position that I can’t invest personally in the companies I recommend to my Breakthrough Technology Alert subscribers. When I agreed to launch that publication, I had no idea how quickly regenerative science technologies would begin to accelerate.

I know that financial newsletter writers use exaggeration and exclamation points the way McDonald’s slings beef and buns, but I’m not kidding. So much has happened. There has been so much good news of late that my challenge is only to sort out what to tell you first.

So, today, I’m going to tell you about one of the most recent developments. BioTime’s (AMEX:BTX) new program to identify the gene transcription factors that control cells (please note, BioTime now trades under the new ticker symbol BTX). This is power that goes far beyond alchemists’ dreams of transmutation. Turning lead into gold is nothing compared to the ability to turn adult skin cells into youthful angioblasts, hemangioblasts and other repair cells.

These cells will rejuvenate your entire cardiovascular system and restore it to complete youthful status. What Dr. Michael West of BioTime is now learning to do reminds me of the mythical life-extending Philosopher’s Stone of alchemical lore – but it is not myth.

BioTime has confirmed, yet again, that it is the undisputed leader in regenerative medicine and cell biology.

As I’ve told you before, Dr. West recently documented, with the help of other scientists, that he can take an aged skin cell on the verge of dying, and turn it into a perfect youthful induced pluripotent stem cell identical in every aspect to an embryonic stem cell.

So, having demonstrated that he can change cell types with transcription factors, West set out to map the totality of human cell development – which he calls the embryome. The embryome is the genome’s programming code and is of greater scientific importance.

He began with the ACTCellerate program, funded in large part by the California Institute for Regenerative medicine. He allowed stem cells to develop, charting the changes and the factors that cause them. At each step, he was able to produce new purified cell types, which are of enormous value and importance to research scientists.

ACTCellerate has produced hundreds of cell types. 140 are being sold by BioTime. On October 22, however, he announced 12 new stem cell lines at the GTBio conference. The real news for those paying attention was not, however, this marginal increase in cell type inventory. It was the way he derived them.

Dr. West and the BioTime scientists have been performing complex experiments, applying transcription factors to both embryonic and iPS cells. As he cracks the code of cellular fate, the code of life itself, he applies for the patents on the methods – which have long been honored by the courts.

Eventually, by the way, only iPS cells will be used in regenerative medicine. It is important at this point in the research, however, to make sure that iPS cells behave the same as embryonic stem cells. I personally think it is important to realize that iPS technology is in the process of making embryonic stem cells completely obsolete. To accomplish this task, however, a small number of embryonic cell lines are being used as controls.

Dr. West calls this new phase in the cracking of embryome ACTCellerate 2 or PureStem. Already, BioTime has 12 new cell lines, created using transcription factors, for sale. In his presentation here, he goes through the process of creating pituitary lines.

As I said, patents are being applied for. Thousands of other cell types will eventually be added to this IP library. In the process, medicine will be utterly and permanently transformed. In a rational world, we would be having parades over this breakthrough. I’ll tell you why.

In between the complexity of creating muscle cells with MYOD1 and iPS cells with four transcription factors is every other cell type in your body and probably many, many new ones. Among those that we know are on West’s roadmap are the cells that will rejuvenate your cardiovascular and immune systems to youthful strength.

How would you like the cardiovascular and immune system vigor of an adolescent? If you said no, I’d guess you were not that old anyway. Proof of principle, incidentally, has already been demonstrated in animal experiments.

These therapies may be as simple as giving blood to a Biotime clinic and coming back for a transfusion in a few days. It’s almost certainly that simple when it comes to heart and artery rejuvenation.

A multitude of other therapies will also become available due to BioTime’s PureStem research. One that I’m particularly looking forward to is a simple injectable cell cure for lactose intolerance. The day when I can once again eat Parmigiano Reggiano and Brie without concern will be a true day of celebration. Improved eyesight, muscle tone and reflexes will be nice too. Maybe some more hair too.

The really important thing about the cardiovascular and immune system rejuvenation, however, is that these procedures will extend healthy lifespans for the majority of the population significantly. There’s still a ways to go, to be sure, but we can at least see the finish line.

In closing, let me return to my oft-used analogy of investing during the Great Depression. Visionary investors who believed in the emerging technologies of electronics, radio and home refrigeration did well even during the downturn. Eventually, they earned fortunes.


Patrick Cox
for The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning