Today Texas and the world are witnessing tremendous breakthroughs in medical science and research at higher education institutions and in the private sector. Stem cells have generated unprecedented excitement in medical research because of their well-founded promise to treat many major health issues, a wide range of sporting and physical injuries and assist in surgery recovery. For the first time in history, it is possible to repair damaged tissue with a new supply of healthy cells by drawing on the unique ability of stem cells to directly or indirectly regenerate the body’ s specialized cell types.
Embryonic versus Adult Stem Cells
Stem cell researchers and advocates have endured public and ethical controversy, mainly due to the myth that stem cells can only come from embryos. Multipotent stem cells are found in all tissues and organs in the body. Indeed, new breakthroughs like the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that have many characteristics of embryonic stem cells, have removed the embryo debate. Currently, product development, investment and research focus more on adult stem cells which are safer and capable of generating a greater variety of tissues than previously thought.
Leadership Around the State
Doris Taylor, Ph.D. at Houston’s Texas Heart Institute is regenerating hearts and lungs in awe inspiring work. Imagine not having to wait on a heart transplant donor, but to have a new perfectly matched heart made from your own stem cells. Houston and Baylor College of Medicine’s Will Decker Ph.D., is performing groundbreaking research for a cell-based vaccine to reduce childhood cancer using the immune system. Darwin Prockop, M.D. Ph.D., an internationally recognized researcher on human bone marrow-derived stem cells, directs the Texas A&M Institute for Regenerative Medicine. San Antonio is at the forefront of multiple military applications for stem cell therapies and has multiple research institutions involved. The San Antonio company INCELL, led by stem cell manufacturing expert Mary Pat Moyer Ph.D., is developing, manufacturing and testing clinical-grade cell and tissue therapy products and reagents for itself and its global customers.
Stem Cell Economics
Texas is a respected worldwide leader in medical research, but is at a crossroads in this globally competitive field. Currently, thirteen other states and multiple countries are funding stem cell research and its applications with the intent to derive economic benefit while improving the health of its citizens.
A 2010 economic impact study by Terry Clower, Ph.D. of North Texas University and Bernard Weinstein Ph.D. of SMU described the following:
If Texas’ share of the industry should grow from 2.9 per cent to six per cent, the biotechnology sector could be a $62.5 billion industry. An industry of this size would contribute $87.4 billion to state economic activity and support over 230,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs (compared to 33,000 today) paying over $12.8 billion in salaries, wages, benefits and proprietors’ income.
Property income from rents, royalties, dividends and corporate profits would rise to almost $7 billion, and state and local indirect business tax revenues would increase to $1.3 billion
Estimated costs of treatments each year in Texas on Heart Attack, Stroke, Type 1 Diabetes, Parkinson’s and Spinal Cord Injury are approximately $14 billion. The potential benefits from stem cell enhanced treatments reducing these costs by as little as one per cent would save almost $140 million each year. Over thirty years these costs would sum to $4.2 billion.
According to the James Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and Kirsten R.W. Matthews Ph.D. in her 2011 report, Stem Cell Research and Biomedical Research in Texas, the Texas biomedical industry related to stem cells employs more than 100,000 people with an economic impact of approximately $75 billion. The report estimated the number of patients treated with stem cell therapies will rise from 20,000 in 2007 to 9.4 million in 2020 with associated costs of $12.6 million and $16 billion, respectively.
The Baker Institute report ranked Texas fourth in the nation for total research and development funding ($17.9 billion) and fifth in the nation in funding from NIH ($1.1 billion) in 2010. In 2007, it was estimated that for every $1 of NIH funding, Texas generated $2.49 in economic activity, the highest return in the nation.
Many nations, including The United Kingdom, Israel, India and China, among others, have already recognized the incredible medical and economic potential of stem cell research. If Texas, does not act now, we will miss out on one of the most significant opportunities in history.
The greatest challenges facing the State of Texas and our leading companies, doctors and scientists on the forefront to getting stem cells to the clinic involves increased fundingand the continued education of our policymakers and the public on the potential of this science. If the State of Texas, its policymakers and business leaders choose to ignore this science and not support it financially, Texas will lose its place at the forefront of this life-changing biomedical research.
Funding Stem Cell Businesses
Notably, Texas has several programs for promoting research and business development including the Texas Enterprise Fund, $93.1 million used for biotechnology projects, the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, $171 million used for biotechnology projects, and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas with $3 billion used for cancer research. However, more emphasis must be given specifically to targeting opportunities to accelerate moving stem cell therapies to the clinic.
This new science of regenerative medicine can motivate a young generation of research scientists and entrepreneurs and stimulate commercial opportunities from innovative research. The “best and brightest” scientists and students will seek Texas institutions to do this exciting research and Texas companies to bring it to the market.
The CEOs of Texas’ businesses, our policymakers and universities should all embrace the frontier of applying stem cell science to regenerative medicine and use their influence and financial expertise to make it a state priority. This leadership for medical and economic gain will not only benefit Texans but will have potential global impact.
David L. Bales and Mario Salinas are founding board members of Texans for Stem Cell Research (TSCR) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512.797.2703. TSCR is a 501c3 non- profit, all volunteer organization committed to educating the citizens of Texas on the promises of stem cell research. TSCR will receive this year’s Educational Award as a model grass roots advocacy organization at the World Stem Cell Summit in San Antonio December 3-5.
May 16, 2015 Comments Off on The Texas Migration Miracle
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