The Australian biotech company Mesoblast has been granted a patent related to adult stem cells, Mesenchymal Precursor Cells, and the isolation and multiplication or expansion of these stem cells. They are obtained from blood and can be frozen for use at later times. The patent news is reported on the Australian business site egoli; the press release is on Biotech Intelligence.
In India, the Business Standard reports that the cord-blood bank Reliance Life Sciences wants to triple its capacity form 10,000 to 30,000 units over the next few years. Also in India, the Indian Express reports that Asia Cryo-Cell Pvt Ltd, Pioneers and Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute plan to launch a stem cell transplant center that will work exclusively with stem cells derived from cord blood or adult stem cells.
And in the US, Business Week has published an article on the financial difficulties being faced by Advanced Cell Technology Inc;, one of the few companies in the US that does embryonic stem cell research. ACT was working toward human cloning and stopped when Hwang Woo-suk first claimed to have done it. The article also discusses how the biotech company Geron’s stock rose after it published results of a study in which cardiac-muscle cells derived from human embryonic stem cells survived and grew when transplanted into mice. Stem cell research appears to be volatile in the US stock market.
The Hartford Courant has published an article about some of the issues facing lawmakers in Connecticut, who have $100 million to give out over 10 years for stem cell research. But there are a host of conflicts:
Can administrators at schools such as Yale and UConn dictate which scientists can apply for grants?
How will the money be divided among researchers and institutions?
Should grants be small or large? Should preference be given to scientists who conduct research with human embryonic cells that are subject to federal research prohibitions?
Can large chunks of the state money go for new buildings and equipment that may be needed to avoid violating restrictions President Bush imposed on federally funded stem cell research in 2001?
It is not even clear who will make the decisions about who gets the money.
In other words, even when there is money to go around (though not enough from the viewpoint of who is in competition to receive it), there are an assortment of other issues that can't be separated from the research itself.