Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Impact of Hwang matter on stem cell companies

from UPI, on report that Hwang's Snuppy the Afghan hound is a clone [March 9, 2006 issue of Nature]:

"For the U.S. companies, the main one is Geron, and even when you look at when the initial news came out, it affected the stock negatively a little bit," Geoffrey Seiler, editor/analyst of the Bull Market Report, told UPI. "But I don't think this latest announcement will affect them either positively or negatively," Seiler added.

The reason is that Geron, as Bull Market noted in a report released this week, has had some big breakthroughs in the preclinical arena, using stem cell-based therapies to restore the ability to walk in paralyzed rats and repair damaged rat hearts.

However, the Korean scandal "might have an impact on some of the smaller companies, like Advanced Cell Technology," Seiler said. Some of the companies are so small "that any news in the field, traders can get in and affect them one way or another," he said.

In the report, Bull Market stated that it likes Geron because the firm plans to begin clinical trials in people with spinal-cord injuries [IPBiz query: IND approved?] and it also recently reported positive data from TAT0001 and TAT0002, two non-stem cell therapies intended to treat HIV/AIDS.

Overall, Hwang has done far more damage than good here," Robert Lanza, vice president of medical and scientific development at Advanced Cell Technology, told UPI.

"He has set back the potential for the therapy moving into the clinic up to two years and this doesn't vindicate the wrong that he's done," he added.

Lanza thinks the initial therapies to emerge from embryonic-stem-cell techniques could come "within the next few years," with neuronal and eye therapies probably being the first because these are immune-privileged sites where rejection will not be as much of an issue as in other areas of the body.

For other therapies, such as using progenitor cells to repair damaged organs and tissues, these could be "a decade or two away, at best," he said.


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