Friday, November 14, 2008

Pfizer Stem-Cell Push to Target Ailments Linked With Aging

Doctors may someday slow or reverse the aging process with drugs that stimulate the body to repair itself as a result of research undertaken by Pfizer Inc.

Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, will spend $100 million during the next five years to harness stem cells to treat heart disease, diabetes and vision loss common among the elderly, said Ruth McKernan, the scientist heading the program.

Stem-cell technology has primarily been the province of small biotechnology companies, such as Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, California and closely held Novocell Inc. of San Diego. Now scientists from Pfizer, working in labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Cambridge, England, will research new treatments to spur stem cells already in people's bodies to become active in healing,

"The major pharma companies are moving into the field and taking a very strong position," said Alan Trounson, president of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the state agency that funds stem-cell research. "We feel they're like big ships coming together with us. It's starting to be an armada."

The drugmaker today is announcing details about its U.K. lab, where therapies will be researched for vision and hearing, said Corey Goodman, president of Pfizer's biotherapeutics and bio-innovation center, in a telephone interview yesterday. The U.S. team will focus on heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Pfizer is hiring 70 scientists by the end of next year to staff the laboratories.

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Contributed by:
Margaret Rose Tollerton (MRT)
Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures
Columbia Regional Organizer

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