geronBay area companies are one step ahead in the exploding field of stem cell research. The counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and San Diego, along with the cities of Boston and Madison, Wis., have become major hubs of the nation’s fast-growing biotechnology sector, which includes companies working on stem cells and other areas of regenerative medicine.

Biotech giant Geron Corp. is already famous in the global race of stem cell therapy. It will be the first to begin a human clinical trial using the controversial embryonic stem cells. Geron is now all ready with federal approval for the first ever US human trial for injecting stem cells into ten paralyzed patients.

List of companies and their shares in the advancement of stem cell research

VistaGen Theraputics Inc.
City: South San Francisco
Developing: Embryonic stem cell therapies
In Oct of last year announced the signing of a strategic research agreement with Sanwa Kagaku Kenkyusho Co. Ltd. (”Sanwa”), an international pharmaceutical company
headquartered in Nagoya, Japan. Under the new agreement, VistaGen will apply
its embryonic stem cell technology portfolio to develop customized stem
cell-based discovery tools for Sanwa. Sanwa will then use the new discovery
tools to screen its compound libraries for new drug candidates for treatment
of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

ExelIxis Inc.
City: South San Francisco
Developing: Treatments for cancer
Exellxis identified the activity of XL139 a small molecule inhibitor of the hedgehog signaling pathway. Hedgehog plays a critical role in regulating cell growth, proliferation and differentiation in normal development.
The pathway is deregulated in basal cell carcinoma, medulloblastoma, glioblastoma, multiple myeloma and pancreatic and a variety of other cancers.

Inappropriate activation of hedgehog can result from activating mutations, loss of repressors or overexpression of factors that stimulate the pathway. Signaling through hedgehog also has been shown to stimulate production of angiogenic and survival factors, both in tumor cells and in the surrounding stromal tissue. In addition, recent data suggest that hedgehog signaling may play a key role in cancer stem cell (CSC) proliferation and the resistance of CSCs to chemotherapeutics and radiotherapy. preclinical data suggest that XL139 profoundly inhibits hedgehog signaling .

iZumi Bio
City: South San Francisco
Developing: Technologies to turn ordinary cells, such as skin cells, into patient-specific stem cells

Izumi Bio and Kyoto University’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application will collaborate on research, development, and applications of induced pluripotent stem cell technology to advance drug discovery and cell-based therapies for patients.

Both the organizations’ researchers will share some cell lines. iZumi and CiRA both offer the capability to take skin cells from a diseased patient with known genotypic and phenotypic information and reprogram them to behave similarly to human embryonic stem cells. The parties will conduct comparison and characterization studies independently but will share the best methods to produce appropriate cell lines for drug screening and development as well as those best suited for cell-based therapy.

Cellerant Therapeutics Inc.
City: San Carlos
Developing: Products to regulate the blood-forming system

Cellerant Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company, engages in developing hematopoietic stem cell based cellular and antibody therapies for blood disorders and cancer. Its products include CLT-001, a hematopoietic stem cell for the treatment of cancer and sickle cell diseases; and CLT-008, a cell-based medicine for treating neutropenia due to chemotherapy or radiation exposure and acute radiation syndrome.

Geron Corp.
City: Menlo Park
Developing: Embryonic stem cell therapies

Geron Corp (GERN), a biotechnology company based in Menlo, CA, is developing first-in-class biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases, including spinal cord injury, heart failure and diabetes.

They are advancing an anti-cancer drug and a cancer vaccine that target the enzyme telomerase through multiple clinical trials. We are also the world leader in the development of human embryonic stem cell-based therapeutics.

Geron have received FDA clearance to begin the world’s first human clinical trial of a hESC-based therapy: GRNOPC1 for acute spinal cord injury.

Stem Cells Inc.
City: Palo Alto
Developing: Neural stem cell technologies using adult brain tissue

StemCells, Inc. is focused on the discovery and development of stem cell therapeutics to treat damage to or degeneration of major organ systems such as the Central Nervous System, Liver and Pancreas.

They claimed to be a world leader in the discovery and development of human neural stem cell technology using cells derived from adult (i.e. non-embryonic) brain tissue.

They use a proprietary process to isolate, purify and expand rare candidate stem cells found in adult human tissue.

To date, we have discovered the human neural stem cell as well as a population of rare candidate stem cells found in human liver and pancreas.

SanBio Inc.
City: Mountain View
Developing: Therapies based on stem cells and other regenerative medicines for neurological disorders.

SanBio has pioneered and is the leader in the development of technology to convert donor bone marrow cells to various types of cells for use in regenerative medicine. The Company’s first products are in the later stages of preclinical development using SanBio’s proprietary technology to create cells for use in the treatment of neurological disorders.

SanBio has an expanding portfolio of products. SanBio has used its proprietary technology to develop three products, SB623 for the treatment of stroke, spinal cord injury, and Parkinson’s disease, SB618 for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, and SB308 for the treatment of muscular dystrophy and trauma.

SanBio is also exploring the opportunity to deploy its technology to produce other types of cells to address unmet medical needs. In principle, the Company believes its technology can be used to treat any degenerative disease in which the recovery or replacement of functioning cells or tissues could provide long term benefit.