This really is significant news, but at the same time it shouldn’t be too surprising.
It’s significant from a pro-life prospective that one of the leading pioneers in embryonic stem cell research is ending their research in that field.
It’s not surprising because in an economy that continues to tighten its belt, research that has produced little to no tangible results is going to get scraped. When money is plentiful, investors are willing to buy into the well reheresed lines that embryonic stem cell research is the key to ending all disease. The simple fact is while years and years have gone by and hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested, there is nothing to show for it. Investors, not surprisingly, want more return on their investment.
That is not to say all stem cell researh is bad or unproductive. Great strides continue to made in the field using adult cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, umbilical cord stem cells, direct reprogramming from one type of cell to another, etc. Not only are these options more ethical, they also represent the greatest hope in the fight against disease.
Here is the beginning of the story by AP, as found in the Washington Post.
TRENTON, N.J. — The company doing the first government-approved test of embryonic stem cell therapy is discontinuing further stem cell work, a move with stark implications for a field offering hope of future medicines for conditions with inadequate or no current treatments.
The news sent Geron shares down sharply in after-hours trading. They fell 38 cents, or 17.3 percent, to $1.82.
The company is eliminating 66 full-time jobs, or 38 percent of its staff, a process that will bring about $8 million in costs — about $5 million in the current quarter and about $3 million in the first half of 2012. Geron said it expects to end this year with more than $150 million in cash and investments.
In a statement, the company said the decision to narrow its focus “was made after a strategic review of the costs, … timelines and clinical, manufacturing and regulatory complexities associated with the company’s research and clinical-stage assets.”