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The RegMed Daily Dialogue, 5/20/11, recovery watch … TGIF

The 6 W’s:   Who, what, where, when, why and what of it…

Regenerative medicine/stem cell universe stocks are down in mid-day trading on Friday (5/20/11). The NASDAQ is down -15.53 (-0.55%) to 2808.07. The Dow is also down (another hat trick day) -61.56 (-0.49%) to 12,543.45. What’s driving the regenerative medicine – stem cell market today … a lack of visibility!

US stocks continue to slide, wiping out any weekly gains (what gains?), after a stronger dollar weighed on commodity prices. The euro halted a 4 day gain versus the dollar as the Bundesbank said Germany’s economy will probably lose growth momentum and Greek bonds slid. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.7 percent to 1,333.87 at 10:17 a.m. in New York and the yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped 1 basis point to 3.16%. The euro slipped against all 16 major peers, tumbling 1% against the dollar. The yield on the Greek 10-year bond added 55 basis points, driving the difference with German bunds to a record 1,349 basis points. Cotton, cocoa and oil declined more than 2% to lead the S&P GSCI Index of commodities lower.  Enough macro news!Action on Friday is aligned to the risk trading, as markets play defensive and the reversal of trends for the US dollar.

AMEX: NBS, BMTI, KOOL, PSTI, ISCO.OB and STEM are up!  We are experiencing a Sargasso Sea or paucity of wind in our sails. Reiterating, real news is needed as volumes are anemic. I believe, regenerative medicine/stem cell companies will float through these doldrums!

Geron Announces Senior Management Appointments:  GERN appointed Stephen Kelsey, MD to EVP, Head of R&D and CMO; Jane Lebkowski, PhD, to SVP  and CSO; and Melissa Kelly Behrs to SVP, Strategic Portfolio Management. Drs Kelsey, Lebkowski and Ms Behrs will report to David Greenwood, GERN’s President and CEO. The bottom line, GERN is aligning the “new/old” with titles and operational responsibilities team to direct the scientific & clinical programs and to integrate the strategic business plan.

Science Brief: Not All iPSC-Derived Neural Precursor Cells Are Created Equal:  Scientists claim that the ability of nerve cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to function in vivo may vary according to the method used to generate the iPSCs from adult cells. A team based in the Republic of Korea and the US has found that neurons and neural precursor cells (NPCs) derived from virally reprogrammed iPSCs demonstrated residual expression of exogenous reprogramming genes, early senescence, and apoptotic cell death. In contrast, NPCs and dopamine neurons (DAs) derived from hiPSCs generated using a protein reprogramming technique were highly expandable, exhibited gene expression and other properties similar to those of the brain’s own dopamine neurons, and restored motor deficits in the rat model of Parkinson disease. Findings were reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation titled “Protein-based human iPS cells efficiently generate functional dopamine neurons and can treat a rat model of Parkinson disease”. The bottom line, the majority of hiPSC lines have been generated using lentiviral and retroviral methods to deliver the reprogramming genes, but these techniques are known to generate multiple chromosomal integrations and possible genetic dysfunction. What has not been carried out to date are studies that systematically compare the physiological and differentiation properties of hiPSCs generated using different reprogramming methods. The researchers have previously developed a non-viral method for generating hIPSCs that directly delivers four reprogramming proteins to cells, by fusing the proteins to a cell-penetrating peptide.  

ASCO:  A major theme at the big American Society of Clinical Oncology (OTC:ASCO) meeting next month will be matching cancer patients with drugs based on the biology of their tumors. The so-called targeted cancer drugs are expected to grab lots of attention because of their ability to home in on specific molecular drivers of tumors while limiting side effects on healthy tissues. The bottom line, another key to targeted drugs is their potential to make clinical development less of a guessing game because patients who participate in trials are screened for the molecular drivers that the treatments are intended to attack. This could remove some of the risk from development.