James Richman, Latvian-born billionaire investor known for his investments in innovative technologies, is joining the growing number of investors who are backing the R&D of the medical breakthrough from the Tel Aviv University known to have successfully produced 3D-printed heart from human patient’s own cells.
As one of the strong proponents of artificial intelligence, Richman’s interest in biotechnology industry does not come as a surprise. In fact, he is also known to invest in research and development activities supporting the efforts of researchers and scientists to find ways to potentially defeat death, or at least slow down aging.
His support in the space is a good sign of the growing efforts to humankind’s quest for immortality and to enrich people’s lives.
Latvian-born billionaire investor James Richman is part of the growing number of investors supporting the R&D of the medical breakthrough which successfully tested 3D-printed hearts from human patients cells. It is a giant step in humankind’s bid for immortality as this gives hope to transplant patients.
Who is billionaire James Richman?
James Richman came from humble beginnings and was born in Smārde of Tukums region in Latvia to technology and psychology sage parents. Before he ran away from home at the age of 16, he had already begun building his wealth by initially taking in odd jobs.
This led him to owning a string of successful businesses which were then consolidated and gave birth to his private investment empire spanning across real estate, innovative technologies, manufacturing, and others.
From his humble beginnings in Latvia, investor James Richman founded his global private investment firm where he is known to invest in some of the world’s most promising advancements to enrich people’s lives.
Through his natural skills to recognize patterns, which is often attributed by various sources to his Asperger’s syndrome, he is known to scour the world for the most promising and innovative investments.
His innate talent to easily read patterns gave him the edge to successfully conquer the financial markets. With just a few months in the red, he was able to navigate through financially tumultuous times and came out victorious, especially at a period when most people are taking retreat.
While most of his lucrative investments are known to have been done in private and through closed-door deals, some of his most prominent and public investments include Uber, Facebook, and Tesla.
It is his natural ability to sift through thousands of data, information, and deals that made him successful. As he instinctively reads through patterns, often attributed by many sources to his Asperger’s syndrome — a high functioning autism common among such high achievers as Bill Gates, Nikola Tesla, Sir Isaac Newton, and others, gave James Richman and his sophisticated clients the edge in their investments.
In fact, many global family offices have been aware of his expertise for many years through their private networks. Some of them have revealed in this Microsoft’s media arm, MSN article, how James Richman has been their trusted person in terms of diversifying, protecting and growing their wealth. He is their go-to billionaire especially at the most troubled times and with the looming threats of political and financial instability.
Despite his discreet nature, the billionaire has been making headlines due to the growing interest and public nature of his investments.
Most recently, Yahoo! News has revealed that he and his camp are linked to acquisition talks with the equally low-key Barclays brothers in the sale of some of their assets. The sale comes as the British billionaire brothers empire is experiencing break up and are offloading some of their assets, including iconic hotel The Ritz Hotel and media giant The Telegraph and Spectator.
Why is he backing the medical breakthrough?
The Latvian-born investor is joining the growing number of billionaires pouring in investments in various research and development efforts in a quest to curb the number of deaths caused by the most common causes of death such as cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimers, and cancer.
People familiar with the matter revealed that such massive support from James Richman into the project’s R&D efforts will not only help make sure that all required resources and expertise are met, but it will also significantly increase the project’s exposure as a result.
In fact, just days after the news of Richman and Barclay brothers talks, financial analysts were quick to point out that the banking empire, Barclays (NYSE:BCS), which simply shares the name of the brothers, has experienced a positive shakeup from the said news.
Just like with other medical research, the project still has a long way to go before further conclusions are made and for it to be viable for further testing. While similar efforts have been successfully completed by scientists in the past, this is the first time that the successful 3D-printed heart comes directly from the human patient’s cells.
Other projects that have also successfully come up with 3D-printed heart using a patient’s cells include Belgium-based firm Materialise which specializes in 3D printing technology and Chicago-based startup BioLife4D.
Such progress provides us with a proof that someday, the process could be useful when constructing new organs for transplant patients.
Growing trend in global cardiovascular disease
In the United States alone, more or less half of its population suffer from cardiovascular disease. Each patient faces unique personal challenges to manage his or her condition, but the grief is real for them and their family.
Medical professionals often point out to a number of factors that usually lead to such condition. They highlight lifestyle, diet, smoking, rest and genes as factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases.
3D printed version of a human heart will no longer be a distant reality, thanks to successful breakthrough by researchers in Tel Aviv (Source: ABC News)
First medical breakthrough
Professor Tal Dvir, senior author of the said research at Tel Aviv University, is excited to share the progress of the project so far and welcomes the much-needed additional support into the project, “This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers.”
A biopsy of the fatty tissue that surrounds the abdominal organs was one of the processes involved in printing the heart. The extracellular matrix linking the cells were separated from the rest of the contents of the tissue.
These cells were programmed by the researchers to act as stem cells. These stem cells then have the ability to transform into heart cells. The “ink” came from this material that was processed into a personalized hydrogel.
The initial experiments focused on creating heart patches from the patient’s cells and hydrogel. Later, it progressed into printing an entire heart.
The professor of Tel Aviv University’s School of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, also disclosed, “At this stage, our 3D heart is small, the size of a rabbit’s heart, but larger human hearts require the same technology.”
Such progress is a great improvement in the medical technology field. Before, researchers had only been able to print only simple tissues without blood vessels.
As the project requires several stages of research and further testing before developments can come out of it, the additional support as well as interest from billionaires like James Richman comes as welcomed news not only by the organization, but also for the biotechnology industry.
Positive impacts of the project
The technology is centered to combat the leading cause of death in the developing world, cardiovascular disease. Heart transplant is currently the only known treatment available for patients who have end-stage heart failure. Therefore, the success of the project can provide hope for transplant patients, and a giant leap in humankind’s bid to combat one of the world’s silent killer diseases.
Dvir emphasized that using the patient’s own cells is key to engineering the organs and tissues to curb the risk of organ rejection during transplants. “The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of these treatments”.
Hope for many transplant patients
According to the researchers, they plan to train the hearts to behave like hearts. “The cells need to form a pumping ability; they can currently contract, but we need them to work together.”
Once Professor Dvir’s team is successful, they plan to transplant the 3D printed heart in animal models and, after that, humans.
“Maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely.”
While we may have to wait a bit longer for the real thing, the great progress and growing interest in the study takes us just a few steps closer to the much needed development in humankind’s bid to combating cardiovascular disease.
Also, the news of James Richman’s support being linked to the research does not only cement the research’s potential, but also provides the much needed runway for it to continue further research and development. With all of these combined, we may just be on our way to seeing 3D-printed hearts made available in our local hospital branches sooner than later.
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