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03-03-2010, 01:30 PM
BIOTECH: International Stem Cell marks progress



By BRADLEY J. FIKES - bfikes@nctimes.com | Posted: March 2, 2010


OCEANSIDE ---- International Stem Cell Corp. announced a milestone Tuesday: It has successfully grown its special kind of stem cells for two years.

The feat provides more evidence these stem cells are stable enough for research and disease treatments, said Kenneth Aldrich, the company's chairman.

The company's message appears to be getting a more sympathetic hearing this year than last. Shares closed at $1.62 apiece Tuesday, triple the value at the year's beginning, and up 3 percent for the day. During most of 2009, the company's stock languished under 50 cents per share.

International Stem Cell is promoting its stem cells as an alternative to embryonic stem cells, which are derived from days-old human embryos. The company's stem cells are grown from unfertilized, or "parthenogenic," human egg cells.

"Our view is to try to get as many researchers focused on as many different disease targets as we can, using our cells," Aldrich said. The company can do this because it owns the technology rights to these cells, he said.

The company's stem cells have the same ability as embryonic stem cells to turn into nearly all kinds of organs and tissue in the adult human body, Aldrich said. Moreover, its cells have been immune-matched to large segments of the population. This reduces the risk that transplanted tissues developed from the cells might be rejected.

The company charges a nominal fee to researchers who want to test the cells, Aldrich said.

"But if they are successful in finding a cure and use our cells in the process, then we stand to benefit from that," Aldrich said. "As my president and chief operating officer (Andrey Semechkin) likes to say, we want to have as many shots on goal as possible."

International Stem cell has teamed up with researchers to develop treatments for macular degeneration and liver disease. If all goes well with animal testing, it's feasible that human clinical trials could begin for at least one disease next year, Aldrich said.

Call staff writer Bradley J. Fikes at 760-739-6641. Read his blogs at bizblogs.nctimes.com.

Posted in Business on Tuesday, March 2, 2010 4:25 pm | Tags: Nct, Business, Local