A group of biotechnology executives and medical doctors have formed the Coma Research Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education, research, and therapeutic possibilities to patients and families suffering from disorders of consciousness.

Coma is the most severe disorder of consciousness, in which no voluntary actions can be initiated by the patient, and sleep-wake cycles are abnormal. Persistent vegetative state is when patients have periods of wakefulness, such as opening of eyes, however are incapable of voluntary movements. Minimally conscious states are also a disorder of consciousness, in which there is some voluntary actions but they are unpredictable.

No established treatments exist for disorders of consciousness, although various case reports have shown improvement using approaches ranging from stem cell therapy, to deep brain stimulation, to administration of the sleep promoting drug Ambien.

“The overall objective of our Institute is to accelerate progress in this highly underserved area of medicine through providing education, funding and novel concepts to empower existing researchers in the field, as well as be a voice for patients and their families,” says Thomas Ichim, PhD, chairman of the Coma Research Institute, in a release.

“As part of our dissemination of information strategy, we have launched a Twitter account, where peer-reviewed scientific publications of relevance to coma and disorders of consciousness are discussed. The Twitter name is @endcoma,” says Carla Fabek, director of communications for the Coma Research Institute.

The founding board members of the Coma Research Institute are as follows:

Thomas Ichim, PhD, chairman of the board: Ichim is a cellular immunologist with 95 peer reviewed publications and over 40 patents and patent applications. Ichim currently is chief scientific officer of Regen BioPharma, board member of Creative Medical Health, bioRASI and Batu Biologics, and managing partner at Vendevia Group.Ichim is co-discoverer of the Endometrial Regenerative Cell, a novel stem cell that was acquired by Intrexon, a NYSE traded company, for $26 million.

John Chiplin, PhD, board member: Chiplin is founder of NewStar Ventures, an investment vehicle that has created and funded over 20 companies in the last 10 years. Chiplin was founding CEO of Arana Therapeutics, a new generation antibody developer and a board member of Domantis Inc, prior to the acquisition of these companies by Cephalon ($329 million) and GSK ($458 million), respectively. Prior to founding Arana, Chiplin was managing director of UK-based ITI Life Sciences investment Fund. Chiplin served on the board of Medistem Inc with Ichim and Bogin, which was the clinical developer of the Endometrial Regenerative Cell.

Vladimir Zaharchook, MBA, board member: Zaharchook is a professional investor and corporate director, specialized in financing and growing private and public companies. Zaharchook has financed and directed projects ranging from commercial real estate and hospitality to biotechnology. Zaharchook served on the board of Medistem with Ichim, Bogin and Chiplin in the position of vice chairman.

J. Christopher Mizer, board member: Mizer is chairman and founder of Vivaris Ltd. A fund which invests in and acquires middle-market businesses in a broad range of industries that are leaders in their market niches. Mizer is currently president and CEO of IFAN Financial Inc, a publicly traded company developing, producing, marketing, and selling mobile electronic payment systems.

Vlad Bogin, MD, FACP, board member: Bogin is Founder and CEO of Cromos Pharma, a full service clinical research organization that has conducted hundreds of clinical trials in areas ranging from small molecules, to medical devices, to cellular therapeutics. Bogin is founder of PatientCube a cloud-based software solution aimed at reducing the >$200 billion in medical waste caused by duplicative patient testing due to lack of inter-operability between electronic medical record systems. Bogin served as chairman of Medistem Inc.

Amit Patel, MD, MSc, board member: Patel is an internationally renowned clinical stem cell specialist, having been the first person to inject stem cells into the human heart. Patel is director clinical regenerative medicine and tissue engineering at the University of Utah. He serves/served as principle investigator on over 20 FDA regulated regenerative medicine clinical trials.