Making case for stem cell treatment

The 35 companies and researchers who spoke at last weeks stem cell conference in La Jolla faced a big challenge. They were given just 15 minutes each to pique the interest of potential investors and corporate partners.

To get that brief time in the spotlight at the Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa, they came from across the country; two came from Europe.

Nearly all of them shared the goal of using stem cells and the bodys own regenerative ability to treat diseases and injuries. But their approaches to regenerative medicine vary greatly.

Many are tackling diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hair regeneration. Some aim to provide new and useful stem cell types. Others provide equipment to expand regenerative medicines tool chest.

Here are five of the presentations:

Aderans Research Institute: Your own hair, back again. Thats the allure of Atlanta-based Aderans Ji Gami hair growth process. Patients donate hair-containing skin from their neck, and Aderans cultivates the hair follicle-forming cells. These cells are then injected back into the patient.

The cells stimulate new hair production in dormant hair follicles, working on male or female pattern baldness, said Aderans Chief Executive Ken Washenik. They have been tested in animals and are now being tested in people.

When we inject this mixture of dermal and epidermal cells we find that the cells intercalate (integrate) into existing hair follicle structures and reprogram them or turn them back on, Washenik said at his companys presentation.

Aderans has performed Phase 1 safety studies on Ji Gami, and has now started Phase 2 studies, looking for effectiveness.

DiscGenics: About 30 million Americans experience lower back pain, much of it caused by spinal disc degeneration. The market for treating it is about $4.4 billion, said Flagg Flanagan, president and CEO of DiscGenics, based in Salt Lake City.

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Making case for stem cell treatment

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