Stem Cell Patents: An Innovative Approach to Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery
Stefania Navone, Silvia Cristini, Laura Canzi, Eugenio A. Parati and Gloria Invernici
Affiliation: Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, U.O. Cerebrovascular Diseases, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico “Carlo Besta”, via Celoria 11 Milan 20133 Italy.
Keywords: Patent, stem cells, drug, cancer therapy
Over the last decade, improvements in cancer therapies have prolonged the lives of cancer patients. Despite dramatic advances in imaging technology, surgical techniques, and adjuvant radio - and chemotherapy, the overall prognosis of this disease remains dismal. In light of this, there is an urgent need for the development of more effective therapies that can target residual disseminated tumor burden. Given the heterogeneity of tumors in general, no one strategy is likely to provide a satisfactory treatment regimen. Until the middle of the 20th century, medical treatments were limited to options like drugs, surgery, antibiotics, and radiation, but in the last years stem cells, due to their pathotropism, have become particularly attractive candidates not only to replace damaged tissue in degenerative pathologies, but also to deliver therapeutic molecules in patients with disseminated metastatic cancer. Worldwide there have been over 2000 patent applications involving human and non-human stem cells, of which one quarter refer to embryonic stem cells. Over one third of all stem cell applications and one quarter of all embryonic stem cell applications have been granted. The aim of this review is primarily to focus on the recent development of stem cell patents in cancer treatments.
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