Geron Holds Worldwide License to a Breakthrough Discovery with Promise for Treating Degenerative Diseases
MENLO PARK, CA -- November 5, 1998 -- Human embryonic stem cells (hES cells) -- unique cells capable of forming all the different cell types and tissues in the body -- have been successfully derived and maintained in culture for the first time by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, according to an article to be published in the November 6 issue of the journal Science. The research was led by James A. Thomson, VMD, Ph.D., Developmental Biologist at UW-Madison, and was supported by and is licensed to Geron Corporation (NASDAQ:GERN).
"These cells are different from all other human stem cells isolated to date," said Dr. Thomson. "As the source of all cell types, they hold great promise for use in transplantation medicine, drug discovery and development, and the study of human developmental biology."
The Embryonic Stem Cell
Embryonic stem cells are derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst formed during early embryogenesis. Distinguished from all other stem cells, they are pluripotent, able to develop into virtually any and all cells and tissues in the body; and, consistent with their expression of telomerase, self-renewing, a potentially limitless source of cells.
"Geron is focused on developing products to treat age-related degenerative diseases. The availability of hES cells opens extraordinary opportunities for tissue transplantation, and for developing cell and gene therapy products with breakthrough medical potential," said Thomas Okarma, Ph.D., M.D., Geron's vice president of research and development. "Further, Gerons proprietary telomerase technology for prolonging the replicative lifespan of cells derived from hES cells positions the company to potentially supply the preferred cells for transplantation medicine."