It's patents versus patients as biotech giants fight to dominate the stem cell industry

In the world of biotech, genetic engineering and regenerative medicine there’s a magic holy grail: stem cells on demand. And like the holy grail, stem cells promise to cure all ills, and grant indefinite life to the worthy, and wealthy.

The best stem cells to enhance your health are your own, taken at the embryonic stage, or grown by transforming your adult cells with genetic programming. Stem cells can be programmed to clone a variety of tissues and organs, providing replacement parts for your body, repairing damage, and reversing aging.

This is the heart of the battle – to be King of the Clones. Nobody wants a mini-me, but they do want a cloned heart, kidney, liver or arm and leg. And the company that cracks the code to produce stem cells on demand will win the throne.

CryoBaby is promoting the cloning of whole embryos soon after fertilization, or if it’s an IVF procedure, at the same time. Stemcilla and YoungBlood are perfecting ways to regress adult skin or blood cells back to their stem cell origins. Both methods have their technical and ethical challenges to overcome. But the benefits of being able to cure diabetes, reverse cancer and ultimately replace organs will win out in the end.

Cloning your own cells is only the start. Effective treatments and procedures also require designer genes, and the ability to ‘edit’ genetic material on computers, then produce them with bioprinters has really changed the game. Doctors even use tame, modified viruses to carry out the molecular surgery inside your cells.

The game of clones is really getting interesting. Will the ultimate winners be you and me, the patients who need the stem cell therapy? Or the biotech giants who hold the patents?

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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