Stem cell research, while still in its early stages, holds the opportunity for science to grow its understanding by leaps and bounds, unlocking doors that could protect humans against Alzheimer's Disease, Cancer, Heart Disease, HIV and AIDS, advocates say.
Researching and fulfilling this potential is the goal of Gene and Cell Technologies, a California-based research center that recently moved into a 3,000-square-foot facility and now accepts bitcoin, as well as hard currencies like gold, for purchases at its online store.
Founded in 2013, veteran stem cell researcher and Gene and Cell Technologies CEO John Schloendorn said the company is still "ramping up" its operations, producing the components that it will use when its new center is fully operational.
Just three months in, his team is still focused primarily on the infrastructure that will support its ambitious initiatives, which include investigating stem cells and their use in cures to some of mankind's most notorious diseases.
With no sales to date, Schloendorn sees bitcoin more as a way to address what he considers to be "the problem with the medical industry" and its over-reliance on government funding. Schloendorn told CoinDesk:
"This probably makes it so that healthcare professionals, and in particular research scientists, are among the people who benefit the most from government deficit spending, and who therefore have the least need for bitcoin as a non-fiat alternative."
Still, Schloendorn refers to himself as "the exception to the rule," though he is hoping to find other scientists who share his economic and medical beliefs.
Science's reliance on big government
Schloendorn sought out bitcoin due to what he called his lack of confidence in the government and its ability to run a stable economy. Schloendorn said:
"Bitcoin seems to have serious potential as an alternative. So, I wanted to learn about that, and the best way to learn is by doing."
For now, doing means selling components to other scientists through his web store and providing contract research services for regenerative medicine. As for the future of stem cell science, Schloendorn is more confident:
"I personally believe in the potential of regenerative medicine to provide 'spare parts' for just about any disease, where any part of our body is broken. The beauty of this strategy is that you don't necessarily have to understand how the body works, or what exactly is wrong in each individual disease. All you really have to do is find a way to produce functional cells, tissues and organs."
Finding an audience
While he has yet to have his first bitcoin customer, Schloendorn is undeterred. Gene and Cell Technologies is building its product portfolio, and with this, Schloendorn expects to determine how he can target advertisements to other bitcoin-using scientists.
Schloendorn hopes this new business will come with time, but is optimistic about bitcoin's potential in his field, especially given the problems he's had accepting gold.
"I suppose it's still a lot of work to chop them into the correct size," Schloendorn said.
Earlier this month, CoinDesk reported that an initiative called Project Marilyn was accepting bitcoin donations to fund work on a promising cancer fighting compound called 9DS.
Researcher Isaac Yonemoto, a PhD scientist in chemistry and biophysics, said: “I’m raising money to finish preclinical experiments on the anticancer compound 9DS. Research on this compound has been abandoned twice, so third time’s the charm.”
Yonemoto said he believes bitcoin donations for Project Marilyn are just the beginning for the currency’s charitable potential.
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