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article imageHigh tech stem cell company faces challenges

By Tim Sandle     Feb 1, 2014 in Business
The only U.S. company with an ongoing embryonic stem cell therapy clinical trial is struggling financially and is also facing some legal challenges.
Despite there being many potentially successful, and lucrative, innovations with stem cells, the commercial development of stem cell technology has been slow to emerge, according to a special feature in Nature. In 2010, the then leading company Geron stalled.
The next major player, Advanced Cell Technology, now appears to be in some difficulty. According to a news report from Nature, the company is in trouble with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is running out of money.
Advanced Cell Technology is currently running three Phase I clinical trials for degenerative eye diseases. Although the company intends to start the next round of clinical trials later this year, the Nature article notes that the firm’s most recent quarterly report revealed that the its funds could be used by the end of this year. To add to this, the SEC claims that company paid out $4 million to settle an SEC charge of selling stocks without registering them. This charge led to Advanced Cell Technology’s CEO, Gary Rabin, stepping down.
The company previously posted about some potentially successful stem cell technologies. This consisted of preliminary data from two human patients, each with a different degenerative eye disorder, showing safety and perhaps even some efficacy of an hESC treatment.
Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells, that can differentiate into specialized cells and can divide (through mitosis) to produce more stem cells. The cells are used in research because they have the capacity to differentiate into specialized cell types.
Despite the reports of problems, Edward Myles, the Advanced Cell Technology's chief financial officer and executive vice president of corporate development, said in a press release that the clinical trials will proceed. “Our core programs, the ongoing Phase I clinical trials for dry-age related macular degeneration (AMD) and Stargardt’s macular degeneration (SMD), continue to progress according to plan and we expect to release interim, top line data from the trials in the very near future.”
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