This article was originally published in Start Up
Current cellular models for drug discovery can be notoriously unreliable, both for their predictive power and their sustainability. Cells derived from human progenitor stem cells can provide homogeneity over countless experiments, but working with them remains a complex scientific art. By industrializing production of stem cell-derived cell model systems, CellDesign Inc. intends to capture a chunk of the existing $1.5 billion market for cellular model systems and grow it through sales of easy-to-use kits for deriving everything from human fat cells to Alzheimer's disease-ridden neurons.
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Amorcyte is intent on developing patients' own enriched bone-marrow stem cells as a treatment for cardiovascular disease. The idea is to infuse the stem cells into the heart a week or so after a severe heart attack, where they will linger and help restore damaged tissue. Results of a Phase I clinical trial recently reported at the scientific session of the American College of Cardiology conference showed the treatment was safe, and yielded insight into the minimum dosage necessary to generate a beneficial effect.
California Stem Cell Inc.'s founder, Hans S. Keirstead, PhD, is well known in stem cell circles as the developer of processes that can produce extremely pure cell lines from human embryonic stem cells. As such, the start-up is uniquely situated. Not only does it produce over 95% pure populations of several cell types for use in research, but the firm also has proprietary reagents it sells to pharma and biotech firms. And it is building its own therapeutic pipeline: CSC is poised to file an IND for an hESC-derived therapy to treat type 1 infantile spinal muscular atrophy, the largest genetic killer of children under the age of two.
In March 2009, Belgium's Cardio3 BioSciences announced that a patient with chronic heart failure had for the first time received its C-Cure, a stem cell-based therapy developed to help heal damaged heart tissue. The procedure involved transplantation of the patient's own bone-marrow cells, which had been cultured and implanted according to specialized protocols. The company claims it has proved that its cells become cardiac myocytes, and are also part of the new vessels that are generated post-therapy. The Cardio3's scientists could also demonstrate that the implanted cells did not cause arrhythmia and thus were electrically linked to the rest of the tissue in the heart.