Revelations in Science that ES Cell International has left the field of embryonic therapeutic research must be sounding alarm bells to investors in this much hyped biotech sector, said The Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Senator Boswell today.
ES Cell International (ESCI) was set up with the help of Australian investors and the Singapore government with the aim of being the world leader in embryonic stem cell technology. ESCI is also a commercial partner of the Australian Stem Cell Centre and has claims to the intellectual property rights of Monash researchers.
So much for all their claims about miracle cures and billions of dollars of returns for investors. The facts of the science have finally defeated them. As the Science (July 20) article reports:-
making well-functioning insulin-producing cells "proved really difficult," Colman says. Both envisioned therapies would need at least a billion cells for each human dose. Producing such numbers at the required purity "becomes very expensive," Colman says.
I have been saying that for years during federal and state debates on the initial embryonic research push and then cloning. Embryonic research for therapies is a no-go because of the limitations of the science. The only breakthroughs that can be realistically applied to patients are in adult stem cell technology.
The exit of ES Cell International from embryonic therapies is most significant and vindicates my often criticised position. There will be none of the promised miracle cures from embryonic stem cell research. Members of Parliaments have been conned into supporting the destruction and cloning of embryos purely to support a highly risky investment market which is now falling apart.
Queensland MLAs who are still to vote on cloning should take note of the departure of a world leader in the research field and realise that there are serious question marks over the validity and feasibility of continuing down this path to cloning.
ENDS See attached extracts of text from ESI and Australian Stem Cell Centre websites
Extracts from ES Cell International Website (25/7/07)
Driving the Revolutionary Use of Stem Cells to Cure Major Degenerative Diseases
ESI is concentrating its therapeutic development on generating cell replacement therapies using frontier technologies and methodology towards the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In both cases there is a significant unmet clinical need and considerable commercial opportunity.
ESI's scientific collaborative partners are located at:
The Australian Stem Cell Centre - Focusing on stem cell biology, techniques for directed differentiation and development of haematopoetic and pancreatic progenitors.
These programs are led by Drs Andrew Elefanty and Edward Stanley.
ES Cell International Pte Ltd (ESI) was incorporated in Singapore in July 2000, with seed capital provided by two principal investment groups, Life Science Investments Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of the Singapore EDB, and ES Cell Australia Ltd (ESCA), an Australian investment consortium. Since August 2004, the company has consolidated its operations to the Biopolis, Singapores premier biomedical research complex.
ESI is focused on developing two cell therapy opportunities:
1. The transplantation of hES derived islet like insulin secreting cells for cell replacement therapy of diabetes;
2. The transplantation of hES derived cardiomyocytes for repair of cardiac function post heart attack.
If successfully developed, the potential market for each product is in excess of $US5 billion per annum.
ESIs goal is to have commenced human clinical trials in one or both of these cell therapy areas by the end of February 2008.
ESI was founded to develop human embryonic stem cells (hES) technologies, developed through the pioneering efforts of Prof. Ariff Bongso at NUS and his collaborators at Monash University in Australia and Hadassah Medical Organisation in Israel. The rights to these technologies have been assigned to ESI.
Extract from the Australian Stem Cell Centre Website 25/7/07
The Australian Stem Cell Centre has established and continues to seek partnerships with leaders in research and industry who will contribute to the Centre's goal of delivering stem cell therapies to patients.
The ASCC has a number of collaborative agreements with industry to advance specific aspects of stem cell research. These are with: Singapore-based ES Cell International Pte Ltd (ESI), for commercialisation of research outcomes at Monash University relevant to diabetes.