March 3, 2024

Quick fix stem cell therapies? Fagedaboutit!

British researchers pour cold water on stem cell research

British researchers
from the Institute for Science and Society at the University of
Nottingham, have questioned whether stem cell therapies can be
profitable in the near future. They have identified two serious
problems in a recent issue of of the British bioethics newsletter

First, small firms
find it difficult to make a business out of stem cells. Since most
medical developments, historically, have originated in private
industry, this is a major concern. After surveying the field, the
researchers found a "significant risk of market failure"
for a number of therapies. "Unless this situation changes, the
industry is likely to rapidly contract and the progress needed to
take new therapies into late stage development will be adversely

Second, there are
many barriers to adopting innovative therapies: "perhaps the key
reason why regenerative medicine has not been taken up is because
clinical utility and clinical need have not been designed into first
generation cell therapy products to a sufficient extent. This has
resulted in invention without adoption."

Curiously, despite
all the hype surrounding stem cell therapies, "major
institutional and structural barriers will need to be overcome in
order to facilitate its adoption, and this will take considerable
time and effort."

In short, "it
is clear that talk of stem cells revolutionising medicine is
misplaced. Successful translation will require sustained public and
private investment over many years." ~ BioNews, May 11