Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Patrick Cox's Breakthrough Technology Alert comments on ISCO's breakthrough in Parkinson's disease

The following article was posted on Agora Financial's Breathrough Technology Alert yesterday.   It is reproduced here with the permission of the author.

February 5, 2013

ISCO Proves hpSCs’ Value in Animal Parkinson's Study

Dear Breakthrough Technology Alert Reader,

International Stem Cell Corp. (OTCBB: ISCO) is, of course, the company that developed and patented commercializable human parthenogenetic stem cell (hpSC) science. These stem cells, called either parthenogenic or parthenogenetic stem cells, come from the parthenotes in the female ova or its immature form, oocytes. The word oocyte, incidentally, is pronounced OH-a-site.

Parthenotes, as you know, are cells that have shed half their DNA in preparation for fertilization. This doesn't mean that these gametes -- ova and spermatozoa -- have only one strand of the double helix, however. In these cells, both helixes of the double helix are the same.

This means that the cells won't function exactly like normal cells. They can't, for example, develop into embryos. Obviously, this is a big advantage for people who oppose the therapeutic use of embryonic stem cells (eSCs). Another advantage is that with only half the genetic complexity, these hpSCs are much, much easier to immune-match.

Some scientists believe that only 10 lines would immune-match most of the human race. This, of course, would simplify stem cell medicine immensely by removing the need for most immune suppression, which is expensive and risky. ISCO, in fact, is now gathering unused oocytes from fertility clinics internationally to build their cell bank.

There are disadvantage to hpSCs, however. One is that a library of the cell lines must be established, consisting of the multiple cell types needed to treat all or most patients. Each of those lines will then have to be converted individually to the specific cells needed for therapeutic purposes. That process is going to take a while.

There is, however, one medical area that could make use of hpSCs’ less-complex DNA before the entire cell bank library is online. This is because the immune system works very differently inside the blood brain barrier (BBB) that forms a protective envelope around the central nervous system (CNS). The brain and spinal cord are inside the extra barrier of protection. There, the immune system does not reject cells based on HLA matching points, the genetic signals that normally trigger rejection.

This lack of immune rejection is the reason that so many embryonic and adult stem cell researchers have targeted spinal therapies. Currently, Neuralstem Inc. (AMEX: CUR) is experiencing significant progress using adult cells from fetal sources to treat ALS.

There are many CNS diseases, however, and ISCO has just announced the results of animal studies that prove they're also in the game. The 12-week preclinical in vivo Parkinson's disease study demonstrated significant benefits using hpSCs in a rat model of Parkinson's disease. Read the press release here.

This is very good news for several reasons. First, it provides more evidence that hpSCs can function as normal embryonic cells do within host organisms. For many, this was the biggest question regarding hpSCs. Second, the Parkinson's results move revenue opportunities, probably from a Big Pharma deal, much closer. A Parkinson's therapy can be pursued now, because it does not require completion of the parthenogenic cell bank or the reprogramming of those lines into therapeutic cells.

While ISCO seemed to be on hold for a period, this development is extremely good news for the company. ISCO's platform is among the very biggest in biotech today. Because the company owns the alternative to embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells, much or all of what others develop using those cells can be duplicated with parthenogenic cells -- without the need to license rights from those who control eSC and ipSC patents. Moreover, hpSC versions of therapies will have immune rejection and public opinion advantages over embryonic cells. In many countries, including Germany, they will also have legal advantages over eSC therapies. They will, similarly, have cost advantages over many ipSC therapies.

The company has recently expanded its skin care line and is gaining increasing exposure in the cosmetics market. Progress on the Parkinson's front, combined with other CNS therapies, represents far greater potential revenue opportunities, however. These nearer-term goals on the company's road map are exactly what is needed to hold investor interest while the cell bank library is completed.

That event will change medicine as we know it forever.

Yours for transformational profits,

Patrick Cox