Stem cell therapy holds great promise for regenerative medicine

Groundbreaking work in cancer and stem cell research highlights tremendous medical and financial potential of emerging biotechnologies

The recipients of The 2009 Lasker Awards, announced today, represent the dramatic advances achieved in biotechnology research that have led to a revolutionary cancer treatment and the tremendous promise of stem cell therapy for regenerative medicine. Such advances portend a potential $700 million global market for new therapies within less than five years, according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN, www.genengnews.com).

The Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for 2009 recognizes discoveries in the process that instructs specialized adult cells to form stem cells, and will be presented to Sir John Gurdon, DPhil, DSc, FRS, Emeritus Professor and Group Leader, Gurdon Institute of Cancer & Developmental Biology, University of Cambridge, and Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences, Kyoto University.

The 2009 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award honors outstanding therapeutic research on chronic myeloid leukemia, and will be given to Brian J. Druker, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Leukemia Center, Oregon Health Sciences University, Nicholas B. Lydon, PhD, formerly of Novartis, and Charles L. Sawyers, MD, Head of the Laboratory in Human Oncology and Pathogenesis, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Providing insight and expert commentary on the awards in an article appearing today on the GEN website (www.genengnews.com) are prominent scientists Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, editor of the journal Cloning and Stem Cells (www.liebertpub.com/clo), and Graham Parker, PhD, editor of Stem Cells and Development (www.liebertpub.com/scd). Also providing authoritative perspectives are Maria Freire, PhD, president of the Lasker Foundation, Peter C. Johnson, MD, president and CEO of Scintellix and executive vice president and chief medical officer at Entegrion, and Linda Powers, co-founder and managing director of Toucan Capital, which manages a portfolio that includes 16 stem cell or regenerative medicine companies.

"The 2009 Lasker Awards for basic and clinical research underscore the enormous impact that scientific research and translational medicine will have on human health," said John Sterling, Editor in Chief of GEN. "In the areas of embryonic and adult stem cells, this international recognition of the implications for nuclear reprogramming techniques and the ability to produce stem cells capable of regenerating tissues and organs damaged by disease, trauma, or age, will ignite new research ventures and collaborative partnerships and spark investment across the life sciences sector."

"Both embryonic and adult stem cells offer enormous promise for new treatments and cures," said Mary Ann Liebert, president and CEO of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. "It is urgent that any health care reform policy ensures coverage for stem cell therapies, gene therapies, tissue engineering, and other regenerative therapeutics and technologies," she said.

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