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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Drug R&D Spending Now Down (But Look at the History) | Main | Avastin At the FDA Today: Passion Should Lose »

June 29, 2011

For Responsible Stem Cell Reporting. . .

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Posted by Derek

. . .you either have to go to the specialty press, or (sometimes) to the last couple of paragraphs of a mainstream article. For several years now, it's been hard to think of any medical field that's been more relentlessly overhyped than stem cell therapy (a worst-case example was its appearance in the 2004 elections, courtesy of the ever-reliable John Edwards?).

FiercePharma has a good short look at an article in Time that is much more well-balanced than most, but still has some of the usual problems. And don't get me wrong - I think that stem cells are an exciting area of research, an excellent thing to be investigating, and could quite possibly lead to some wonderful results. But not next week. And not without a few billion dollars, most likely. Anyone who tells you otherwise is, to my mind, to be regarded with suspicion.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Press Coverage


COMMENTS

1. anchor on June 29, 2011 9:10 AM writes...

Derek: grave yard of technologies that failed to deliver on initial hype....Combinatorial library, Nano tubes/rods, SirNA, Stem cells. Great science, great papers...but nothing at the end of the day!

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2. mikesh on June 29, 2011 10:58 AM writes...

With embryonic stem cells there is also the ethical controversy. For many, many people (including myself) a human embryo is a human being, having the same right to live as each of us. And don't tell me that this is irrelevant from the scientific point of view. Everybody has to solve this controversy for himself - in one direction or another.

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3. pete on June 29, 2011 11:30 AM writes...

Well, if you think about it, bone marrow transplant has been with us for a while now. So for this admittedly limited example of stem cell-based therapeutics, we don't need a few billion dollars and a long wait. It's here.

As for the larger area of stem cells & therapeutic potential, I'd agree it's been overhyped - but then again, the day is young. You really don't have to go back too many years to a time when the majority of cell biologists doubted that stem cell-like cell populations existed for more than a handful of organs/tissues. Times have changed pretty rapidly, no ?

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4. Happy on June 29, 2011 6:30 PM writes...

I guess this is another thinly veiled shot at all the "waste" in Academia (sovereign govt) while "industry" (Oligarchy aka thieves) whines because the cupboard is bare and they loves that "Social risk privatize profit" scam.

But what is really puzzling is the constant defense by chemists of "industry" when they get treated like farm animals headed to the stockyards! (outsourcing)

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5. DevicesRUs on June 30, 2011 9:55 PM writes...

If you go to Clin trials you will find that there are currently more than 1600 stem cell trials recruiting. One of the more successful products in the medical device space is Bone Morphogenetic Protein (in spite of the recent press) and that is clearly stem cell therapy, just not the stem cells as the therapy themselves. I think that stem cells in medicine are here to stay, and for a variety of both hard and soft tissue repair they are clearly successful. I think some of the hype for example in diabetes reversal is unwarranted but the technology is indeed here and will only get more pervasive in the future.

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6. DevicesRUs on June 30, 2011 9:56 PM writes...

If you go to Clin trials you will find that there are currently more than 1600 stem cell trials recruiting. One of the more successful products in the medical device space is Bone Morphogenetic Protein (in spite of the recent press) and that is clearly stem cell therapy, just not the stem cells as the therapy themselves. I think that stem cells in medicine are here to stay, and for a variety of both hard and soft tissue repair they are clearly successful. I think some of the hype for example in diabetes reversal is unwarranted but the technology is indeed here and will only get more pervasive in the future.

Permalink to Comment

7. tyrosine on July 11, 2011 2:52 AM writes...

@mikesh
Such comments show an ignorance of the nature of embryonic stem cells. ESC work in modern laboratories is carried out on cultured cells. The original ES cells, once harvested, are immortal and renew themselves indefinitely. As such, they are lab culture cells and not "human beings" as you assert.

The initial embryo from where this immortal cell line comes from is another story. In Australia at least, and presumably in the US, ESC come from in vitro fertilisation sources that are no longer required.

And let's be really clear on this -- only embryos that are older than five years are allowed to be used for medical research (and even then only with with rigorous ethical approvals). These are donated embryos and are no longer considered to be safely viable. By law, embryos older than five years cannot be implanted and the only options for them is to be discarded or to be used for medical research. No "human being" is losing its life -- after five years an embryo is destined for waste disposal, so why not use it for potentially life-saving research?

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