Stem cell spin-offs merge with $18M in new VC cash

Renowned University of Wisconsin stem cell scientist James Thomson is merging three university spin-off companies into a single entity charged with commercializing stem cell technology in drug research and testing. Cellular Dynamics, Stem Cell Products and iPS Cells are being joined into a new company named CDI, which is based in Madison, WI.

This new company "intends to be the world leader in the industrialization of basic stem cell technology," says CEO Bob Palay.

CDI's initial goal is to supply human heart cells to researchers for use in drug testing. And Thomson says that the company is also developing new technology that will allow doctors to use the heart cells to test individuals to determine their risk of an adverse reaction. Thomson has long believed that stem cells' greatest initial value can be found in research and testing. He believes that much of the blue sky research revolving around potential cures for Alzheimer's and other diseases won't pay off for years to come.

"We're very much going to be focused on products rather than long-term promises," says the scientist. 

- check out the AP report