First Embryonic Stem Cell Research Company Abandons Mission to Focus on Cancer Drugs

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By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter
November 17, 2011|1:34 pm

The first company to take up government-approved embryonic stem cell research quit its practice earlier this week due to financial reasons and redirecting its focus efforts on cancer drugs.

Geron began its embryonic work in 2010 amidst much controversy and criticism by Christian groups, and it has performed stem-cell therapy on four spinal-cord patients, reporting they are in good condition and have not suffered any negative side effects.

Opposition groups claim that embryonic cell research destroys human life at the earliest stage of development, and adult stem cell research offers an alternative to finding cures for diseases and illnesses.

The Vatican recently hosted a stem cell conference where the Catholic Church declared its support for using adult stem cells, but spoke out again destroying embryos.

John Scarlett, the CEO of Geron, said the decision to change the company’s direction was primarily based on financial reasons, explaining the “current environment of capital scarcity and uncertain economic conditions" made it too difficult for them to continue.

“We're not doing this because we were souring on the field, or as a result of any problems - we have not had any safety issues at all," said Scarlett.

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The company will cut close to 38 percent of its workforce, according to Bloomberg News, and redirecting its focus on phase two clinical trials of cancer drugs.

A number of pro-life and Christian groups expressed their joy with the decision, and proclaimed it an important step towards eliminating embryonic research and focusing on methods that do not destroy embryos, according to the Baptist Press.

Mailee Smith, from the pro-life group Americans United for Life, shared her excitement on the latest developments.

“Clearly, investors don't want to put money into research that will not pay off," said Smith. “We can hope it is the bell toll for unethical and unproductive embryo stem cell research, but it will not have a devastating impact on the field of 'stem cell research' as a whole."

 

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