View Full Version : Stem Cells 'R Us

Dr Mordrid
26th January 2007, 18:10
Story.... (http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,9068-2566831,00.html)

Stem-cell storage firm takes Branson into biotech sector

David Robertson, Davos

Sir Richard Branson will launch his most controversial business to date as he moves into stem-cell storage and the biotech sector, The Times has learnt.

The Virgin-branded company will be launched next Thursday and is expected to offer parents the chance to put the umbilical blood of their newborn children into cold storage. Scientists believe that future advances in medical technology will use stem cells to cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.

The move into stem-cell storage is part of a strategy that Sir Richard is developing to invest in technologies of the future. He has already launched Virgin Galactic, which will take tourists into space, and is investing all the profits of Virgin Atlantic, his airline, in the development of environmentally friendly biofuels.

Stem-cell storage works by saving human blood from the placenta or umbilical cord after birth. This blood is rich in haematopoietic stem cells, which are capable of adapting in the body and replacing damaged or diseased cells. Stem cells taken from umbilical blood at birth have a much higher chance of being supported by the body than healthy cells imported from another donor. This type of treatment has been used for many years in bone marrow transplants for leukaemia sufferers, but scientists believe that medical advances will use stem cells to cure other cancers, as well as heart disease, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.