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A lot has been written already about the promise of stem cell therapy in future medicine. It has been compared to past major break-troughs in research like Pasteurs discovery of penicillin, the predecessor of all antibiotics. But I guess a lot of people look at it with the same scepticism like the development of gene therapy, which also had many more downs than ups in the past 10 years and the question comes to mind- are those sceptics also sitting in the decisionmaker-seats at big pharma in view of the apparent lack of partnerdeals coming about in the sector?

The only company of size and respect in the embryonic space, Geron of Menlo Park, has a potential relationship with Merck, but this has to do with the potential cancer drug GRN163L, which is basically a by-product from their cell research. The reason why nobody of the big boys got involved surely lies in the fact that no clinical trials are underway as yet (planned for 2008 with spinal cord) and big pharma still has a "wait and see" approach here.

In the adult space, which should have a lot more attraction to big pharma because of the sheer fact, that several companies have made significant progress towards commercialization.

One that has some therapies progressing nicely is Aastrom (ASTM), however they appear to have a "one cure for all" approach, whacking all autologous cells taken from bone marrow and which are cultured and multiplied at their Replicell-Sites (TRC´s) at mankind´s diseases. No cell selection takes place, making their process virtually non-patentable (except the culturing, but that really is no science), especially since the source bone marrow and the extraction method is free for anybody to copy. All they can do is try to run as quickly to market as they can, to have a "first mover" benefit. This is also clear, when one sees the change in strategy. Phase III development is only taken place against rare unmet needs thru FDA orphan status.

Nothing big pharma would have an interest in. So, forget ASTM as a future big player. I hope they will survive long term, but I doubt it.

(had enough for today- will continue tomorrow with a run down of all adult players & there partners, if any)

See you

 

 

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