October 20, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Update on stem cell biotechs: an ethical investment, but risky and requiring patience.

When I was at the recent World Stem Cell Summit, I had the opportunity to meet a ton of people from all different walks of life including other scientists in academia, folks in the biotech/pharma industry, and many inspiring patient advocates.

A number of people were curious about my view on how the stem cell-related biotech industry is going to do in the near future.

I have done many posts on stem cell biotechs in the past including this one on ACT and Geron this summer.

More broadly, if I were an active biotech stock investor or analyst (which I’m not), my view is one of optimism coupled with what I think many will view as a frustrating dose of patience. The process will take years to develop before there is much clarity. But the vibe I’m getting from the stem cell community is one of cautious optimism at this point. I think there is clear relief amongst them that the first few patients treated with hESC-based drugs have not had any adverse outcomes so far.

Stem cell biotechs and even big pharma efforts in the area of stem cells both have great long term potential, but it is a hyper-risky area for investors. I’m a fairly risk-averse person so I myself do not have any investments in these companies or any in this area.

One of the biggest take home messages I would like you to take to heart is that clinical trials, upon which all these companies depend entirely, are science experiments and about 90% of the time science experiments fail.

At the same time, I want to stress as I have before that I believe that investing companies such as iPierian, ACT and Geron is a highly ethical thing to do. I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you if any one of these companies will succeed, but I think at least one will.

Note, only invest in anything, but especially biotech stocks with extreme caution and consult a stock adviser first.