Editor's Corner

Stem cells take center stage

The Stem Cell Summit in San Diego this week (below) is providing some solid data to suggest that a small wave of new therapies will be seeking FDA approval in the near future. It's clear that the first products up for approval will be adult stem cell therapies, with companies like Osiris looking to get out ahead. And other developers like Geron are working hard to get embryonic stem cell therapies into the clinic, with an eye to an NDA down the road. Absent significant government investment in the field, stem cell therapies are likely to take quite a bit of time to mature. But the first approvals in adult stem cell therapies are likely to spur investors to get more involved, and that can make a huge difference in accelerating development programs. The U.S. has a worldwide reputation as a leader in venture funding for drug developers. That rep is about to be put to the test as companies in the stem cell field determine if private capital can accelerate the discovery process. The alternative will be to see more of this research migrate to places like Singapore, where the government is more than willing to back stem cell companies. - John Carroll