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LONG-LASTING BLOOD: Arlington entrepreneur seeks funding for cryopreservation

Videos showing Walker exlaining his business to Paul S. Finkelstein's Let's Connect! Friday's Internet Show >> and here >>

UPDATED, Aug. 30, 2019: For Jimmy Walker, it's a long and winding road from his days as captain of the football team at Arlington Catholic. 

The 67-year-old entrepreneur aims to score in a much different game, protecting blood supplies and tapping into a potentially lucrative market.

As founder and chairman of C-Levelclone, a management company, the longtime Arlington resident, after six years of research, is seeking strategic partners for a cryoblood pack process.

The frozen container holding precious, lifesaving fluid aims to overcome drawbacks in standard packaging -- limited shelf life and doubts about uncontaminated blood.

In an interview, Walker said the pack, based on technology developed by the military in the 1960s for red cells only, would eliminate shelf-life issues for all blood components.

"Our technology will save more lives, hospital/blood centers millions and does not require capital investment to implement the "CryoBlood Pak bag/Process," he said.

He said his research has extended the process to all components -- platelets, which has a shelf life of five days; plasma, leucocytes and white cells.

Blood will be available forever." -- Jimmy Walker

New protectant aims to save

He said his new cryoprotectant, already approved for other consumable products, will eliminate the need for the protectant to be removed, or washed, before use, saving hospitals and blood centers millions in recurring cost. The process will eliminate most if not all contaminants in blood, eliminating additional testing of blood before use.

Jimmy WalkerWalker

Under his team's process, blood is drawn as it ordinarily is, but glycerol or DMSO, an existing cryoprotectant, is added to the bag, which is shaken and stored at minus 196 degrees Centigrade in liquid nitrogen.

"Blood will be available forever," he said.

Called cryopreservation, the method is occasionally used to store extremely rare blood types at hospitals, such as Massachusetts General, for up to 10 years. All other donated blood must be used within 42 days. After that, it must be destroyed, Walker said.

In 2017, about 112.5 million blood donations were collected worldwide, the World Health Organization reported. The American Red Cross says that 1 to 3 percent will expire before use and has to be thrown away.

Presentation outlines benefits

A presentation aimed potential investors and dating from the first quarter this year lists the expected advantages of a cryopack, using a new protectant called Polyvinyl Alcohol, or PVA

-- Eliminate blood shortages globally for all components;

-- Blood draws would occur as as usual, with no separate station for platelets;

-- Glycerol or DMSO, which must be washed first, would not be used; and

-- Whole blood may be stored until ready for use.

Read the full business-case presentation >> 

Walker outlined a key problem with current blood storage -- after 43 days, for safety reasons, blood must be destroyed. Health providers can overcome that, he said, by using the cryopack process.

While the American Medical Association supported the process, he said, a cancer-causing agent was found in a protectant used in the process, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration declined to approve it. He sought another protectant.

Discussions with Red Cross

In 2011, in Washington, D.C., he discussed his process with Dr. Fred Walker (no relation), head of operations supply for the American Red Cross. The organization knows about the process and that it works.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he was told, the Red Cross purchased hundreds of freezer to start storing blood. By, 2011, "we were focused only on red cells, as that is how far our research had taken us," Jimmy Walker said..

Could Walker's product be the answer? The Red Cross official seemed intrigued. Meeting again, in 2012, this time in Boston, the two Walkers reached no agreement. Later, following further research for the Red Cross, Arlington's Walker said he was told that the blood agency agreed the process works, but that it could not afford it.

Searching beyond U.S. borders

The entrepreneur began looking for possible vendors outside the United States.

He said he has been talking to ministries in Dubai and Nigeria, places where no FDA approval is needed. In such countries, shortages are great and uncontaminated blood is a premium -- 60 to 70 percent of blood drawn there is contaminated. He said he hopes to sign an agreement in the next two to three months.

He has also been talking to Zipline, which touts its mission as "Lifesaving deliveries by drone." Working in Africa, the company can deliver uncontaminated blood in minutes, alerting recipients with a text-message alert. 

Beyond these hopes for deals is what Walker calls a "huge potential market worldwide." His presentation cites three estimated potential for three markets -- eliminating the shelf life for all blood components ($5 billion), platelets ($3 billion) and eliminating the washing of cryoprotectant from blood and stem cells ($5 billion).

Roadblocks to funding?

The cryopack and other aspects of what Walker's team is working on suggest a clear a large potential market for an excellent product, so what are the roadblocks to funding?

"We have had investors who would fund us," Walker wrote in response to that question, "but they were not the right strategic investors. They were investors only understanding the financials but not necessarily understanding the whole market. I've been very careful with whom we partner."

His team seeks $20 million, he said.

All this is a long way from Arlington Catholic, where Walker graduated in 1971, served on the student Senate and where received the Father Casey Unsung Hero Award.

After working for Sylvania, Compugraphics, BTU Engineering, Merrimack Labs, Cooper Lasersonics and Artel Communications, he said his goal was always to launch a start-up -- and so he did.

He began LMS Medical in the early 1990s, and, in 2011, C-Level Clone, a management consultancy, got underway. 

The rest, as they say, is history -- a history that is just getting underway.


C-Level Clone investor presentation about blood cryopack, 2018

2017 Ted Talk on drones, Zipline


This business-news feature was published Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, and updated Aug. 30, 2019, with a link.

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