Evan Snyder has been called a “stem cell revolutionary” and is regarded as a father in the field of stem cell research.
Xconomy just published this fascinating interviewed him at his San Diego Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. This is where he is reputed to have isolated the first neural stem cell in the mid-1980s, as well as the first human neural stem cell in 1998.
Here is a summary of the interview:
The interview covers the prospects for commercial development of stem cell technology—and how the much-publicized regenerative properties of stem cells, while holding tremendous long-term promise, will likely not be the focus of the first market successes.
Still an enromous amount of promise
The stem cell field is doing really amazingly well, considering how young a field it is. It certainly is if you put it in perspective with other therapies that we now take for granted. For example, everybody does bone marrow transplantation now. We take it for granted. It’s taken us 50 years to be able to make bone marrow transplantation routine. I was an intern in the 1980s, and bone marrow transplantation for kids was still an experimental therapy, and most of the patients died.
When most people think about stem cell research, they think about replacing missing cells—cells that are missing because of a stroke, a spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s, or ALS. You’ve had a heart attack and you want the dead cells replaced. Or you’ve got arthritis and you want your normal joint back.
Areas of promise for stem cells
"If we were having this discussion 50 years from now, I have no question that we would be talking about replacing circuitry and body parts and cell types and things of that sort. No doubt in my mind."
"I rely on my colleagues—the disease biologists—to tell me the areas that they think need to be fixed. So that means using stem cells in transplantation. These cells actually do protect cells and connections and organs that are already there. Using them to detoxify toxic environments. Using them to diminish inflammation. Using them to promote the stem cells that already exist to grow and provide support, so for example using them to help blood vessels grow."
"I think using the cells themselves to change a diseased environment so it becomes healthier is there for Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and even for some childhood diseases that are caused by rare enzyme deficiencies."