Regenerative medicine is finally enjoying advancements at least equivalent to those of other areas. Given that its subject matter is the reduction of degeneration and increase of tissue repair, this area of medicine required a lot more research before it began to show any results. In particular, the discovery of stem cells was of great importance.
Stem cells are unprogrammed cells that can divide forever and become specialized as any kind of tissue. They can be found in embryos and in some adult tissues such as bone marrow.
The promise of regenerative medicine is quite remarkable: to heal injuries and cure disease by growing and replacing body tissues. The claim that this can be achieved is not made lightly, and where money starts flowing one can expect there to be reasonable probability of success. One such instance can be found in the investment announced by Pfizer, the U.S. drugs group last April. Pfizer cash is going into backing University College London research into a stem-cell project to treat a common cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration. This revived Intercytex, a struggling biotech that put itself up for sale this year. “Intercytex rose 4p to 9.875p as investors noted that its subsidiary supplies stem cells for the project and should benefit from royalty payments if Pfizer manages to bring a treatment into clinics.”, reported the London Times.
To be sure, such treatments becoming commercially available will mean a bonanza to the health industry – not to mention the unequaled advancement in human well-being.
Even in its infancy, stem cell based treatment research is already getting the financial markets and pharmaceutical industry excited, and while there will be winners and losers, all seems to indicate that research is showing promise that is tangible enough to put cash behind it.
Advancements keep coming; Alpha Med Press published a paper on May 1, 2009 that University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center scientists put out, where they announced having found functional evidence that the embryonic stem cell self-renewal gene NANOG, which is purportedly expressed in some epithelial cancer cells, can also be found expressed as a functional variant in cultured cancer cells, xenograft and human prostate cancer cells. Functional studies have found that RNA interference mediated NANOG knockdown inhibits tumor development.