Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Big Money Moving In

The Wall Street Journal today described how large companies are quietly moving into the stem cell business. One of the reasons is interest generated as a result of the California stem cell agency.

Here are some excerpts from the article by Antonio Regalado:

“Stepping gingerly into a politically charged arena for the first time, some large companies in the U.S. are pursuing plans to study stem cells drawn from early-stage human embryos.”

“Among companies that have initiated research programs or have plans to are Becton, Dickinson & Co., Invitrogen Corp., Johnson & Johnson, General Electric Co. and the U.S.-based research operations of Swiss drug giant Novartis AG. Their interests range from using the cells to test drugs to developing new transplant treatments.”

“A survey by The Wall Street Journal of 12 of the world's largest drug firms by sales, as well as leading U.S. biotechnology concerns and medical-device makers, found several previously undisclosed research programs involving human embryonic stem cells. But many companies said they weren't using stem cells, and several had policies forbidding the research.

“In no case is a major U.S. company working directly with human embryos. Instead they are turning to small companies and universities to obtain supplies of the cells. Johnson & Johnson, for instance, is backing cutting-edge research on the cells at a biotechnology company in California. Becton Dickinson received supplies from the University of Wisconsin. Other companies declined to say where they obtained cells or where they planned to get them.”
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