Vocabulary:

Isolate-  To separate or detach something so it is alone.

Rejuvenate-  To make fresh and new and to restore to a former state.

Revenue- An amount of money regularly coming in.

Biophysicist- A branch of biology that applies the method of physics to the study of biological structures and processes.

Hematologist- The study of nature, function, and diseases of the blood and of blood forming organs.

Developmental Biologist- A branch of biology dealing with the process of growth and change that transform an organism from a fertilized egg or asexual reproductive unit, as a spore or gemmule, to an adult.

Juvenile Diabetes- Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a disorder of the body's immune system which is its system for protecting itself from viruses, bacteria or any foreign substances.

Disease Burden-the impact of a health problem in an area measured by financial cost, mortality, morbidity, or other indicators

Economic Impact 

          The U.S. alone is projected to have an industrial demand for regenerative medicine of $500 billion by 2020." Dan Gincel, director of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund said that investments by his fund had "directly led to the creation of 500 jobs and an indirect economic impact to recipiants of $71 million"(http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20101005/FREE/101009937&template=mobile). This also directly led to $2.7 million in increased tax revenue. The University of Michigan received $6.8 million in October of 2009 for stimulus money for 13 stem cell projects. Later in May, a TechTown tenant, MitoStem Inc., was paid a $200,000 grant to improve the process of tricking stem cells into becoming pluripotent stem cells which are very similar to embryonic stem cells. Chris Mason, the director of the London Regenerative Medicine Network in the U.K., said that even though regenerative medicine is fairly new to the marketplace, 323,000 patients have already received cell-based therapies. He predicted that one day the market for stem cell and other regenerative therapies will rival drugs and medical products from pharmacies. 
          Recent estimates point out that the US can save up to "250 billion dollars per year with the adoption of regenerative medicine treatments for chronic illnesses like neurodegenerative disease (Parkinsons, injury of the spinal marrow, cardiovascular diseases, neurovascular accidents, and diabetes.)"(MITPortugal). A hypothetical situation performed by researchers exemplifies how the US would save such a large amount of money. In this hypothetical example, "the researchers assumed a stem cell-based treatment for juvenile diabetes that reduced the 'disease burden' by half" (Adams). Their analysis suggested that the people with the disease who were less disease burdened were not the only ones benefiting from the treatment. The parents of children with diabetes would potentially lose less time from work and "their health-care insurance premiums could be lower"(Adams). The children would attend more classes and, as adults, they could be more productive in years following, contributing taxes to the state. "The research group also took into account the monetary value of added years of life for people with diabetes. Add to that the tax-paying companies that employ Californians to bring these therapies to market, and you have a large swath of people who all cash in on the therapies. 'This example shows the sheer magnitude of health benefits that are possible, whether it be from a better and longer life, more productivity, lower health costs or just happiness,' said Greely"(Adams). Although the money saved would be a great improvement for our nation, the companies working on such treatments face many challenges. There are risks associated with a new research area needing constant engineering developments, investor skepticism in the biotechnology field, public and political acceptance of these type of cellular therapies, investment by the national health system in this kind of product, and undefined international regulatory policies required for the approval of these kind of cellular base products. 


Biotech Innovators

          Biophysicist Dr. James Till and hematologist Ernest McCulloch accidentally found self-renewing stem cells and published their findings, bringing awareness to the situation. They were studying the effect of radiation on the bone marrow of mice when they came across stem cells. They are now recognized as the "Fathers of Stem Cell Science" (Till&McCulloch) for exemplifying the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration in scientific research. Years later, James Thompson, a developmental biologist,  from the University of Wisconsin isolated human embryonic stem cells and showed the possibilities they could be used for, such as to rejuvenate and to specialize into tissues. This began an ethical debate, but Thompson’s discovery was a huge stepping stone in the right direction for stem cells being used as regenerative medicine. He also "headed the group of scientists that reported the first isolation of embryonic stem cell lines from a non-human primate in 1995, and the first successful isolation of human embryonic stem cell lines in 1998" (Bellis).  
          As well as these founding members, there are also a multitude of Universities and Institutions that have taken part in the field of stem cell research. The National Institution of Health is a federally funded biomedical research facility that examines all aspects of stem cells. The University of Wisconsin Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center isolated the world’s first human embryonic stem cells and is a leader in the stem cell research field. The Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute (IRMI) is committed to applying this scientific knowledge to  improve the health of Illinois citizens. The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) is an independent, nonprofit organization that is focused on exchanging information, ideas, innovations, and discoveries. Harvard Stem Cell Institute supports research into all aspects of stem cell biology, especially on those areas with the greatest potential for improving human health. The UCSF Institute for Regeneration Medicine is the forefront of developing cell-based approaches and therapies for various diseases. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is a state agency that funds basic and applied biomedical research concentrated on developing diagnostics and therapies. NeuroNova is research-based company whose objective is to discover and develop innovative and cost-effective drug and cell therapies for the treatment of disorders of the central nervous system. 

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