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Companies need to act now so that patients benefit from stem cell therapy

1st April 2009

Following President Barack Obama's recent decision to allow research on human embryonic stem cells, technology investment expert Elizabeth Hill urges pharmaceutical and biotech companies to seize the moment.

neurologyinclinicalQ

The lifting of restrictions on US stem cell research means that scientists can now collaborate openly and freely, but what does this mean to the consumer?

While research can now thrive, people want to know when new treatments for conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s are going to be available.

Two camps are emerging in stem cell research – developing news drugs and stem cell therapy.

This new era offers pharmaceutical and bio-tech companies more opportunities to work with academics in a way that could lead to low-cost treatments for a range of conditions from diabetes to spinal cord damage – particularly through autologous, where patients' own cells are harvested and re-introduced into their body.

New drugs could also be in the pipeline.

However, there remains a key question in both drug development and stem cell therapies: do the pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have the infrastructure in place to commercialise cell-based treatments?

There are immense possibilities; of cell-based therapies one day being administered in pill form or walk-in clinics for stem cell therapy, though it is not yet clear that either pharmaceutical companies or regulatory bodies have thought this far.

Industry is still playing catch-up with the science, but if pharmaceutical or bio-tech companies are to seize this opportunity they need to respond more effectively to enable us all to benefit from new treatments.

 

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