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Industry set for stem cell profits

As President Barack Obama lifts eight-year-old restrictions that have kept scores of researchers from receiving federal dollars for embryonic stem cell research, some life science entrepreneurs are readying for an uptick in business. Michael West, CEO of California based biotech linkurl:BioTime,;http://www.biotimeinc.com/ told __The Scientist__ that he's been preparing for Obama's announcement for the past year. Knowing that the next US president would likely overturn the 2001 Bush ban on gover

By | March 9, 2009

As President Barack Obama lifts eight-year-old restrictions that have kept scores of researchers from receiving federal dollars for embryonic stem cell research, some life science entrepreneurs are readying for an uptick in business. Michael West, CEO of California based biotech linkurl:BioTime,;http://www.biotimeinc.com/ told __The Scientist__ that he's been preparing for Obama's announcement for the past year. Knowing that the next US president would likely overturn the 2001 Bush ban on government funding of embryonic stem cell research, West began amassing embryonic progenitor cell lines made from stem cell lines not eligible for federal funding under the older executive order. "Our focus in the near-term is selling into the stem cell research product market," West said, adding that his company hopes to provide university and industry labs with primitive neural crest, mesodermal, neural and glial cell lines developed from stem cell lines originating at a Chicago fertility clinic. "We're in the process of forging various kinds of collaborations and alliances both in the research side and to distribute these products as well." West hasn't disclosed BioTime's profit projections, but he noted that others have estimated that the embryonic stem cell market tops about $1 billion per year, and analysts are projecting about 10% growth per year, with the Obama order. Kenneth Aldrich, CEO and cofounder of the linkurl:International Stem Cell Corporation,;http://www.internationalstemcell.com/ agreed that Obama's order to overturn the Bush ban will be a boon to his company and to patients who might benefit from stem cell-based therapies. Aldrich told __The Scientist__ that his company has "six to eight [stem cell] lines that are research-ready at any time," adding that the company specializes in parthenogenic rather than embryonic stem cell lines. "[Obama's action] removes the fear on behalf of academic institutions to work with us," he said. "It opens up every academic institution in the US as a potential collaborator for us." Aldrich said that he expects his company to begin delivery of stem cell lines to academic labs almost immediately, as universities apply for federal grants to fund stem cell research. "It could start as early as tomorrow as far as we know. We think we're really in a wonderful position to accelerate the path of discovery." But some pitfalls may lie in wait as the National Institutes of Health disburses new federal money to fund embryonic stem cell research, said Tom Murray, president of linkurl:The Hastings Center,;http://www.thehastingscenter.org/ a non-partisan research institute focused on bioethics. "Because [embryonic stem cell research and cell line development has] been essentially a monopoly of the private sector, we may have a more complex thicket of ownership and patent claims than we might have had," he said. "It's very important that the NIH does everything it can to try and head that off." Jim Greenwood, CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization [BIO] agreed. "To fulfill [the promise of stem cell research], we need the advanced research capabilities and product development expertise of biotechnology companies," Greenwood said in a statement from BIO. "And for biotechnology companies to succeed, we need to ensure that we have public policies in place which encourage innovation by protecting intellectual property, fully funding and appropriately staffing the Food and Drug Administration, and providing adequate reimbursement."
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Obama to lift stem cell ban;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55494/
[6th March 2009]*linkurl:Bush's stem cell ban to end?;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55391/
[30th January 2009]*linkurl:FDA OKs stem cell trial;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55353/
[23rd January 2009]

Comments

March 10, 2009

If this atrocity is going to continue, is there any provision for the donors of the egg and sperm to benefit from the results of using their murdered progeny?
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