Friday, June 08, 2007

A Commercial Perspective on Resetting Stem Cell Clocks

Andrew Pollack of the New York Times wrote a piece Thursday that contained some interesting comments from California folks on mice and resetting their stem cell clocks.

Some excerpts:
"'Once you muck around with the genome, all bets are off,' said Dr. Thomas B. Okarma, chief executive of Geron, a company trying to develop medical treatments from human embryonic stem cells. Dr. Okarma said getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration would become 'enormously more complicated.'"
Pollack continued:
"Joydeep Goswami, vice president for stem cells and regenerative medicine at Invitrogen, a company that sells tools for stem cell research, said the new technique could get more companies interested in stem cells.

"Not only does it eliminate the ethical issues, he said, but it also might provide a way around stem cell patents held by the University of Wisconsin that some scientists and corporate executives say have hindered work in the field.

"Still, an even bigger hurdle for investors has been the uncertainty of whether stem cells can be turned into lucrative medical treatments. Some experts say this might take a decade or more, too long for many investors to wait."
More from Pollack:
"Dr. Okarma of Geron pointed out that after mouse embryonic cells were first isolated, it took about 18 years before human embryonic cells were similarly derived. Geron, based in Menlo Park, Calif., paid for the work with human cells at the University of Wisconsin and has exclusive commercial rights to certain types of tissues created from human embryonic stem cells.

"Dr. Okarma also said it might not be desirable to use skin cells as a starting material because they might have been genetically mutated by exposure to ultraviolet radiation."
Pollack continued:
"William M. Caldwell IV, chief executive of Advanced Cell Technology, said his company had not been able to obtain enough human eggs needed for therapeutic cloning. So the new approach, Mr. Caldwell said, is 'a technology that everyone should take a hard look at.'"

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