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Here at Apex Biologix, we are open about the fact that we sell centrifuges, stem cell injection kits, PRP kits, and other equipment and supplies required for regenerative medicine procedures in a clinical setting. It is our business; it is what we do. Likewise, doctors who offer regenerative medicine within their own practices charge for their services. It is what they do.
All of this is to say that money is part of the U.S. medical system. And despite a few well-known shortcomings, our system is still one of the finest healthcare systems in the world due to its capitalist foundation. The ability to make a profit is what spurs innovation, growth, risk taking, etc. Nowhere is this more evident than in the arena of stem cell therapy.
As you are reading this article, there are dozens of research projects ongoing. These projects are studying stem cell therapy as a treatment for everything from autism to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Even Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are being looked at. But all of this takes money. And without money, research slows and progress is limited.
Our society’s altruistic vision of medicine makes it hard for a lot of people to reconcile the need for adequate funding of medical research. Few people realize the millions of dollars necessary just to research the effectiveness of a stem cell therapy for diseases like Alzheimer’s. It takes a tremendous amount of money just to prove that an idea works. Then tens of millions more is invested in several phases of trials in order to obtain FDA approval and get to market.
In Kansas, they are acutely aware of the funding issue. The state conservative government approved a stem cell research lab for the University of Kansas (KU) back in 2013. Since then, they have poured some $4 million into the lab in hopes of making it one of the premier institutions for adult stem cell research.
Unfortunately, the lab recently lost its director to the University of Nevada. They also lost the grants he had secured while working for KU. Former director Buddhadeb Dawn took his grants with him to Las Vegas.
Now KU finds itself in a pickle. It not only needs a new director, but it also needs to replace the funding that left with Dawn. For now, research at the lab has been somewhat curtailed. University officials also decided to allocate half of the lab’s space to other needs.
What’s happening at KU is not isolated. Wherever stem cell research is ongoing, funding is always an issue in the minds of researchers. There is no research without funding, and there is never any guarantee that a given source of funding will continue beyond a certain point. Both researchers and institutions must always be cognizant of the fact that new sources of funding may have to be found.
So where does that leave regenerative medicine? It leaves everyone in our industry with the knowledge that we must somehow figure out a way to reduce the cost of research. Reducing costs lowers the impact of funding shortcomings. It keeps research moving along, even while there is less money to allocate to it.
The government could help us out a great deal by making a more concerted effort to fast-track stem cell research projects. Fortunately, the FDA has made significant strides toward that goal over the last 18 months. But they still have a long way to go. It still costs way too much money to get from early stage investigative research to viable marketability.
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