Saturday, 25 August 2012

Great times in stem cell land

For much of the past decade, Beike Biotechnology, a private company based Shenzhen, China was one of the most prominent stem cell centers on earth. In its early years Beike founder, Hu Xiang (a.k.a Sean Hu) teamed up with an American professional named Jon Hakim (a.k.a John Harris). Beike has reported treating more patients than almost any other stem cell clinic.

Scott Alexander Moffett (who usually goes by Alex) teamed up with Beike fresh out of a string of successful businesses in south and southeast Asia (visit his public LinkedIn page for a list of companies he has headed). He became the new head of Beike Biotech’s holding company, Beike Holdings and embarked on an impressive campaign to diversify their stem cell business outside of China. In the two and half years he was there, he helped build a network of affiliates and subsidiaries that spanned from Romania to Saudi Arabia to India to Malaysia and Indonesia.

Alex at the World Stem Cell Summit 2009. Watch the video here

But when Hu abruptly sold his stem cell company in late 2010, Moffett followed soon after, buying out the holding company and launching his own new venture, a Bangkok-based “Vanuatu corporation” called Siricell (apparently meaning “The wealth of the cell” in Sanskrit/English), which has the  mission of targeting “age related disease management and to assist in the extension of life until the Singularity Nexus expands the scope and capacities of our work in these areas.” For those of you who don’t read life extension books, the “Singularity” is a proposed future point at which technological development makes it possible to extend human lifespan radically or perhaps even indefinitely. Whether that is achieved through unforeseeable and unlikely advances in medicine, or by uploading a digitized simulacrum of one’s neural network into a computer, I for one will not be holding my breath for it to arrive. (But good luck to all the True Believers!)

And there are many true believers indeed, represented enthusiastically by the SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Foundation, an anti-aging research group headed by Aubrey de Grey, with backing from such impressive backers as PayPal co-founder and Ron Paul’s favorite sugardaddy Peter Thiel and “Internet entrepreneur” Jason Hope. (If you had hundreds of millions of dollars, as these two do, you might try to live forever too.) Interestingly, the SENS Foundation is listed on the Siricell website as a member of the advisory board.

Moffett himself is no stranger to out-of-the-box thinking. He did spend nearly 20 years, after all, at the helm of various companies in the "ayurceutics" and herbal medicine space. And, as with his most Singular stem cells, and apparently drum machine technology (see Linn Moffet Electronics) as well, his expertise was self-taught (see Education). He also spent quite some time in his youth on the luxurious compound of the Fellowship of Friends, an esoteric group in Northern California established by an elementary school teacher in the early 70s to keep the teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky alive. Moffett previously listed this on his Education history, but now only this screenshot remains.

And what good friends they are!

And now, here in 2012, we find Moffett and Marshank together again in a stem cell venture, with Moffett the Founder, Chairman and CEO and “Visionary Entrepreneur” Marshank the Director of International Development. Rounding out the crew is Narin "Jimmy" Apiraichuk, the youthful former VP of Theravitae, the Bangkok-based stem cell center set up by Don Margolis. Marshank stated via LinkedIn that, “SiriCell now has subsidiaries in India, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and the Britisch [sic] Virgin Islands. In 2011 we will be opening subsidiaries in Panama and Egypt.”

I remain convinced that Moffett and Marshank have stumbled upon the stem cell fountain of youth.

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