Patents, Royalties, and Publicly Funded Stem Cell Research
Debaets discusses the debate over the public funding of human embryonic stem cell research, which typically covers the familiar ground of the moral status of the human embryo and is, in many ways, a rehash of the abortion debate. The fact that human embryonic stem cell lines are patentable under US patent law makes them potentially lucrative for biotechnology researchers and makes the question of the return of royalties in exchange for public funding even more pressing. The question of whether biotechnology companies and the researchers they support have the public interest in mind or whether this type of public funding is merely a cover for corporate welfare.
It's More than Stem-Cell Research
"The public market is moving away from this industry," says Buck Phillips, a venture capitalist with Vector Fund Management of Deerfield, Illinois, who spoke at a panel discussion along with Ken Moch, CEO of Parsippanybased Alteon and the current chair of the Biotechnology Council of New Jersey. For a biotech to get funding today, says Phillips, "you need to be able to demonstrate you are near revenues."
Lipid Rafts and Caveolae: from Membrane Biophysics to Cell Biology
Cell membranes are not homogeneous structures with components that are uniformly distributed. The existence of microdomains (rafts) within these membranes was used to explain observational data that showed that certain membrane components cluster together. Detergent treatment of cell membranes allows the isolation of detergent-insoluble/-resistant microdomains that are rich in free cholesterol and sphingolipids. It has been hypothesized that these regions, termed lipid rafts and caveolae, are involved in several important biological functions. However, their precise size, structure and role are still a matter of considerable debate.
Cell transplants shown to protect against MS-like disease in mice
A recent study of mice with a multiple sclerosis (MS)-like disease has shown that transplanting a healthy brain cells could stop MS in its tracks. A group of researchers at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy, injected neural stem cells, taken from the brains of healthy adult mice, into the blood of mice with EAE, an MS-like disease. The results surprised the investigators because the cells not only helped repair damaged tissue, they also appeared to be able to turn off the immune attacks.
Science and Ethics: The Intertwined Debate on Stem Cells
Stem cell research is one of the most controversial topics in modern society, yet many do not know the basic facts about it. Stem cells may be key to possible cures for a wide range of diseases, but its research poses thorny ethical questions that make people confront the basic meaning of human life and human value. Here, Prentice expounds some details about the effectiveness of adult stem cells in treating disease.