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ddn’s ‘summer of stem cells’
September 2011
by Amy Swinderman  |  Email the author
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Drug Discovery News is, described in the simplest and most basic way, a newspaper. Diving a little deeper, it is the job of our editors and writers to monitor trends and developments that impact the business of drug discovery in some way. In the past year, many of these trends and developments have involved the field of stem cell research. Therefore, it is no coincidence that in response to a spike in stem cell-related news, we here at ddn have dedicated a great deal of ink to covering news in this growing research area this year. From collaborations between the world's top pharmas and biotechnology companies, to groundbreaking preclinical research, to the development of new tools to be used in stem cell research labs, ddn has become a veritable "Situation Room" for stem cells.
 
This trend in our coverage inspired us to launch a summer feature series dedicated exclusively to the topic of stem cells. The three-part series began in our July issue, in which we examined the complex history of stem cell research and the promise it holds for improving human health. We also described how the evolution of this still-young area of science has yet to resolve serious moral and ethical concerns with regard to human embryonic stem cell research (hESC)—issues that have divided various levels of government in their capacity to help fund promising research projects. Finally, we provided readers with a comparative view of how stem cell research efforts outside of the United States are conducted, and how various foreign governments approach some of the issues we're dealing with on home soil.
 
In the second part of our series, which ran in our August issue, we decided to tackle those very issues in a direct way. Assembling a panel of experts—Dr. Theresa Deisher, founder, CEO and chief scientific officer of AVM Biotechnology (and one of the plaintiffs in the Sherley v. Sebelius case); Dr. Verna McErlane, director of commercial operations at Sistemic Ltd.; and Dr. Mark Pittenger, CEO and chief scientific officer of Pearl Lifescience Partners LLC—we asked hard-hitting questions about hESC research. The participants in our roundtable discussion offered diverse, but very insightful, comments on the moral and scientific implications of conducting hESC research.
 
Finally, this month, we are concluding this series with a look at who the major commercial players are in the stem cell market—a sort of "Who's Who of Stem Cell Research." Selecting the companies we chose to profile in this story proved to be a daunting task, as the field is growing by the day. Thus, we teamed up with the market research firm Frost & Sullivan to make our final selections. While our final list is by no means conclusive, we think it's a good depiction of the depth and breadth of stem cell research being performed. We also take a close look at some of the United States' top academic centers that are performing work in this area.
 
Now that summer is over, and we are awakening from our stem cell coma, we'll be taking a closer look at other trends, such as what's new in cell biology, as well as providing you with guides to the final conferences of the year, such as the Society for Neuroscience's annual show in October. However, we haven't written the last word on stem cells. We will continue to report on the latest business news in this area and are planning another multi-part series in 2012. To view all of our stem cell series, as well as our other special reports, visit www.drugdiscoverynews.com/specialreports.

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