The British government and three big pharma companies announced a partnership today (October 3) to develop techniques for using linkurl:stem cells; to test the safety of new medicines, the linkurl:Financial Times reports.; So far, the article notes, big companies have stayed away from the controversial field. The group, launched today as a nonprofit called Stem Cells for Safer Medicines (SC4SM), will fund five projects next year focused on turning stem cells into liver cells. Those liver cells would then be used to determine a compound's toxicity before it enters clinical trials. More than 90 percent of all drugs that enter clinical trials don't make it through tests of safety and efficacy, notes a linkurl:Reuters article; about the consortium. The idea behind the 5-year, $10 million project is to predict side effects that would doom medicines in development, before companies spend millions of dollars testing the compounds in early phase human...

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