The best talk today was the keynote address by Dr. George Daley focused mostly on iPS cells.
Dr. Daley is one of the world’s experts on iPS cells and pluripotent stem cells more generally.
He covered many interesting elements of the iPS cell field including the genetic mutations that seem to occur during the reprogramming procedure. Epigenomic changes. Ways to integrate gene therapy and cell therapy approaches that are very exciting.
However, he also asked a cautionary question:
How long will it take to bring stem cell therapy to the clinic? Not just the exciting early trials of ACT and Geron, but fully vetted safe and effective treatments.
His answer surprised me.
Not a decade, but decades plural.
I think Dr. Daley is a realist and I hope he is being too cautionary, but maybe he is right with this answer.
He said if the history of gene therapy is any lesson then we have a long road ahead. However, unlike gene therapy which in essence started from scratch, we already have effective cell therapies such as bone marrow transplantation that have been around for decades. This is a real, very powerful cell therapy. This foundation is likely to prove very valuable. There are millions of people who need help faster than decades.