Twelve years ago, Professor Irving Weissman discovered a treatment that could have saved the lives of thousands of women with advanced breast cancer. Pharmaceutical companies weren’t interested in developing the therapy at the time.
Though interest in his methods are finally being ignited, Weissman regrets the wasted time. In a set of lectures, Weissman repeatedly expressed frustration that while many of his discoveries in the field of stem cell research seemed to hold remarkable potential for life-saving treatments, commercial or regulatory hurdles have prevented his scientific findings from benefiting patients.
One example is Weissman’s research on type I diabetes, in which he demonstrated the ability to fully cure type I diabetes in mice using stem cells. But even though his experiments avoided political controversy by using adult stem cells, which do not come from embryos, Weissman ran into a road block when pharmaceutical companies refused to sponsor clinical trials.
Weissman believes that the pharmaceutical companies put profit over principle, preferring to keep diabetes sufferers dependent on costly insulin than to cure them once and for all.
Sources: Columbia Spectator January 23, 2009