When James Sherley, was notified earlier this year that his company Asymmetrex had been selected as one of the 50 Most Valuable Brands for the Year 2017 by The Silicon Review, he was not surprised as others might be. Sherley says, “I felt like we had been making good progress increasing Asymmetrex’s value, but this recognition by Silicon Valley was particularly meaningful. Our selection by The Silicon Review may seem odd to some, but it makes perfect sense to us. We are able to count adult tissue stem cells for the first time, how? By adapting and designing in silico computational simulation techniques to reveal previously unmeasured properties of adult tissue stem cells, like for instance their number!”
Sherley had a theoretical concept for counting tissue stem cells since before he and his collaborators published a 2001 seminal report explaining how the culture of human tissue cells depends on the unique cell production abilities of tissue stem cells. However, implementing and testing his concept would require enlisting computational modeling expertise. Although Sherley was a professor at MIT, during his time there from 1998 to 2007, he was able to entice only one computer science graduate student to work with him on the idea as a half-semester interdisciplinary experience project.
Then Sherley met Frank Abdi, Ph.D. at a biology-mesomechanics integrative conference in Vicenza, Italy in 2011. Abdi is the founder and chief scientist at AlphaSTAR Corporation, a leading global consulting company in the aircraft and aerospace industry. In AlphaSTAR, Abdi had developed an award-winning, proprietary suite of statistical computational software for simulating the complex behavior of composite materials in high mechanical stress crafts like airplanes, racing cars, and space shuttles. Abdi had a long-standing interest in applying these malleable computational tools to problems in medicine. So, it did not take long for Abdi and Sherley to recognize that they were the ideal team to advance Sherley’s computational tissue stem cell counting concept to practical use.
With other AlphaSTAR staff, the two began by translating Sherley’s biological models into computational code. When Asymmetrex was formed in 2013, the two companies added staff and resources to accelerate their efforts to develop and validate the new counting approach. By the middle of 2016, they had completed development of the AlphaSTEM Test, a working software program validated for counting tissue stem cells in human lung, bone marrow, liver, and amniotic fluid, as well as for detecting tissue stem cell-active compounds like drug candidates. The data input required for the AlphaSTEM Test is easily obtained total cell count data from serial culture of dissociated human tissue cells.
Asymmetrex now markets the AlphaSTEM Test with the computing support of AlphaSTAR. Before the AlphaSTEM Test, there was no method available for counting adult tissue stem cells specifically. Now, it is possible to count tissue stem cells in experiments in research labs; to determine the dose of stem cells in approved stem cell therapies; to determine the quality and dose of stem cells used in private stem cell clinic treatments; to determine stem cell dose for better interpretation of stem cell clinical trial results; to monitor and optimize biomanufacturing processes for therapeutic tissue stem cells; to determine the dose of genetically-engineered stem cells in gene and gene editing therapies; to have earlier screening for stem cell-toxic drugs that fail in clinical trials because of chronic organ failure; to identify environmental toxicants that alter tissue stem cells; and to identify compounds that improve health by positive effects on tissue stem cells.
The many benefits that will flow from now being able to address these many waiting unmet needs and markets are the basis for The Silicon Review’s recognition of Asymmetrex’s high value in 2017 and beyond.
Asymmetrex, LLC is a Massachusetts life sciences company with a focus on developing technologies to advance stem cell medicine. Asymmetrex’s founder and director, James L. Sherley, M.D., Ph.D. is an internationally recognized expert on the unique properties of adult tissue stem cells. The company’s patent portfolio contains biotechnologies that solve the two main technical problems – production and quantification – that have stood in the way of successful commercialization of human adult tissue stem cells for regenerative medicine and drug development. In addition, the portfolio includes novel technologies for isolating cancer stem cells and producing induced pluripotent stem cells for disease research purposes. Currently, Asymmetrex’s focus is employing its technological advantages to develop and market facile methods for monitoring adult stem cell number and function in stem cell transplantation treatments and in pre-clinical assays for drug safety.