Two weeks ago, Foregen’s president Vincenzo Aiello and I went down to West Palm Beach, Florida to attend the annual World Stem Cell Summit – the leading conference in the world covering all aspects of stem cell and regenerative medicine. All the iconic figures in regenerative medicine were there, from Dr. Anthony Atala of Wake Forest, Bernie Sieger the head of the Genetics Policy Institute and organizer of the summit, to Aubrey de Grey of the Sens Institute.
Enzo with Bernie Sieger, myself, and Dr. Atala at the summit
I had the opportunity to speak at last year’s World Stem Cell Summit, where my presentation made quite the impression. I’m likely the only person most of the attendees, mostly doctors, researchers, and investors, have ever heard speak of the foreskin in a serious, scientific manner. (Video of last year’s presentation). We were fortunate enough to be invited back to present this year to showcase our progress over 2016.
A snapshot of my presentation to investors alongside a number of leading biotech CEOs
It is very promising that we are invited to present on the same stage as some of the leading biotechnology companies. From companies commercializing pioneering stem cell treatments for cancer such as commence bio to companies manufacturing extracellular molds for esophageal cancer and reseeding those molds such as biostage, much like Foregen’s goal for the foreskin. We even presented alongside Keith Murphy, the CEO of organovo, the 500 million dollar regenerative medicine giant known for bioprinting mini organs, some of which are going to be used clinically, such as partial livers!
There are many facets of a pitch, from the market size, market validation, technology, management team, etc. Sometimes I stay on script, sometimes I don’t. Because we have yet to finish our initial publications in a peer-reviewed journal and the subsequent patents (we estimate by the end of February we will submit our work for publication), my goal for this talk was to emphasize the potential of Foregen. We’ve made progress, which is exciting! But, I contend that the potential of the company is even more compelling. We’re looking to regenerate a body part that provides great sexual value for 100s of millions of people that are missing it. My point was – this is too big a market for regenerative medicine to overlook. I focused largely on the cultural constructs that enable circumcision and to plant the seed in the minds of those involved in the regenerative medicine field that Foregen will become a major player in the foreseeable future. My talk wasn’t geared towards soliciting investments, because it is unlikely we will get an investment before our first peer-reviewed publications. We should have the video of my talk around the turn of the New Year to share with our community.
Although my talk focused more on the potential, we have made great progress. We’ve decellularizing animal foreskin molds as a starting point and have moved on to finalizing our method for decellularizing human foreskin to derive the extracellular scaffold needed to layer with the proper cells to regenerate the foreskin. We’ve been able to make progress because of you, our community, who believes in our mission as we do and has supported us through your donations and encouragement, which is invaluable. Thank you.
Enzo and I in front of our poster showcasing the preliminary results of our current experiment titled: Scientific design and realization of a new cell-free scaffold derived from human foreskin: a preliminary study
Beyond just making a name for ourselves in the field, the World Stem Cell Summit also provides fabulous networking opportunities. It’s difficult to place a value on the connections we make at every event. For example, when Eric Cunningham and I went to Wake Forest five months ago to their regenerative medicine conference, we had met a few members from the IIAM, a tissue transplant organization. Just within the last week has that connection paid off in spades by providing us with a reliable source to collect adult male foreskin from consenting adults for research purposes. This is quite the achievement considering there are zero existing protocols for collecting this tissue and only 1 in 58 of their recovery partners were willing to help us! It can be tough representing and working for a foreskin regenerative medicine company because it’s culturally taboo, but the intactivist community as well as our efforts here at Foregen are slowly chipping away at that taboo as people start realizing that you can discuss this issue without becoming a social pariah.
For example, we were invited to speak on the amp2.TV podcasting channel, the production company hired to cover the summit. Their goal was to interview all the movers and shakers in the world of stem cell science. Not only did the hosts of the show, Freddy Santory and Dawn Graubert, appreciate the message we had at Foregen, the entire production team in the background stood up and next to the cameras to fully take in the information I provided about the foreskin, intact sex, and the social constructs which have led to widespread medical circumcision despite the obvious harm it does upon inspection.
Screenshot of Eric's Podcast with amp2.TV. Click here to see the interview.
They enjoyed our conversation so much they had said they would look to get me on other podcasts as it was clear that after hearing our message, it was an important one that intimately affects 100+ million Americans and even more people across the globe.
Enzo and I strengthened some old friendships and made new connections at the summit. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve been talking with some entrepreneurs in the crowdfunding space who may be interested in helping us navigate the time-consuming and costly process for equity-based crowdfunding. We are not committed to equity-based crowdfunding, but it is worth noting we may decide to take that route after our initial publications and patents next year.
I of course can’t recount the entire week, but a lot transpired over those five days. These events are so important to attend. It is critical people in the regenerative medicine field know of us, especially as we continue to make progress and grow. Everyone on our team and in our community has no doubt that we will become a major player in the regenerative medicine field as we strive to develop a therapy to mitigate if not completely reverse the harm inherent to genital cutting. Part of becoming that entity involves us making a name for ourselves and meeting the other major players in the space and developing those networks so when opportunities do present themselves we are prepared to take them.
There’s no way we could attend these events if it wasn’t for your contributions. To help us speed things along, we strongly encourage you to become a monthly donor. Whatever contribution you can make helps. As this issue affects 100s of millions of people, a contribution from even a small number of those affected makes all the difference in the world in helping us accomplish our mutual goal.
Thank you again for all your support.
We hope you enjoy the holidays with your family!