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Stemagen, UPenn partner to advance therapeutic use of stem cells

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Stemagen has acquired the exclusive rights to a patent for a groundbreaking technique that allows the development of embryonic stem cells appearing to have a markedly enhanced potential for therapeutic use - uniparental embryonic stem cells. Because these extraordinary stem cells are created without fertilization, they may represent an acceptable alternative for those who oppose the traditional method that requires the use of embryos that are potentially capable of reproduction.

"Because Stemagen has been successful in developing human uniparental embryonic stem cell lines, we believe we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on this patent," said Stemagen CEO Samuel H. Wood, M.D., Ph.D.

This announcement follows the recent publication of a paper in Genes and Development in which a major breakthrough in the field of cell transplantation is reported by Dr. John McLaughlin and his team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. The study describes the successful transplantation of differentiated uniparental cells to rescue mice subjected to lethal doses of radiation.

In conjunction with this agreement, La Jolla-based Stemagen is sponsoring a joint research program with McLaughlin to assess the viability of human uniparental cells in regenerative medicine.

"As a result of this strategic partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, Stemagen now holds exclusive rights to an existing patent that may lead to the therapeutic use of this technology," said Wood.

Traditional embryonic stem cell lines are derived from embryos that result when an egg is fertilized by a sperm.

Because uniparental embryos are derived from the genetic material of either an egg or sperm only (one parent source), they are incapable of being used for reproduction. However, scientists are still able to generate stem cell lines from these uniparental embryos.

"We are excited about this partnership, and believe this intellectual property complements our existing expertise in developing lines of embryonic stem cells for a new era in regenerative medicine," said Andrew French, Ph.D., Stemagen's chief scientific officer.

Heald is Principal at Beck Ellman Heald.

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