The Business of Stem Cells

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Science  25 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5457, pp. 1419-1421
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5457.1419

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Human stem cells have become one of the hottest areas in biotechnology as several companies have jumped in to try to exploit them commercially in medical therapies. Geron Corp. nabbed the early lead in exploiting embryonic and primordial fetal stem cells through its funding of their isolation; most of the other companies are working with adult stem cells, which pose fewer ethical problems because they can be obtained from sources other than embryos or aborted fetuses. Some of these companies are already moving their stem cell products into clinical trials, to use, for example, in restoring cancer patients' immune systems after intense radiation or chemotherapy. But no one yet knows which companies--if any--will win their high-stakes gamble on stem cells.