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Stem cell ruling's impact on Mountain View researchers

Original post made by Nick V, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer, on Sep 1, 2010

The entire field of stem cell research suffered a blow last week, after U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth [Web Link issued a ruling], which banned the use of federal dollars in embryonic stem cell research, according to a locally based scientist.

The ruling said nothing about adult stem cell research, but Dr. Casey Case, vice president of research at SanBio, said that the ruling could ultimately impede research in that sub-field as well.

"Even though (the ruling) doesn't affect us directly," Case said, "I think the whole field suffers."

SanBio is a Mountain View adult stem cell research firm working on stem cell-based treatments for stroke and degenerative diseases of the central nervous system. SanBio recently received FDA approval to begin a clinical trial on its stroke treatment.

Case called the ruling "unfortunate," and said that even though he works on adult stem cells and his research would not be directly impacted, he and other adult stem cell researchers could suffer setbacks.

"It's a very young field and we're all kind of in it together," he said of the entire field of stem cell research -- embryonic and adult alike. According to Case, unlike in other fields of medical research, where companies developing treatments can keep their science under wraps, stem cell researchers are very open about sharing their work with other researchers. If another group makes a breakthrough in treating the same afflictions Case is working on treating, it is likely he will hear about it and will be able to apply what that group learned to his own projects.

Now, with many stem cell operations being impeded or halted due to the ruling, "I think it slows us down," he said.

Although case does not work with embryonic stem cells he supports the practice and does not find anything morally reprehensible about the use of embryos in attempting to find cures for terminal diseases and crippling genetic disorders.

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