Investors and state officials in Wisconsin are trying to lure away an Athens-based company poised to launch a promising biomedical technology discovered by University of Georgia researcher Steven Stice.

The company, Aruna Biomedical, may not move to Wisconsin, however, as Georgia investors make counter-offers to keep Aruna in the state, and other areas may make bids of their own.

But Stice, known worldwide for his research with stem cells and cloning, will stay here whether or not the company moves, he said Wednesday.

He and his partners in the company hope to keep Aruna in Athens, where it began in 2003, but that will depend in part on investment interest.

Aruna last week announced that the company will begin to market and sell human neural progenitor cells, derived from human stem cells, after Stice discovered a way to produce the neural cells in large quantities.

The company, now housed in a business-incubator building on the UGA campus, needs investment money to move from research to production.

Stice said the ability to produce the cells in big quantities has “astounding” potential. The real key is that they will be able to get these stem cells in the hands of tens of thousands of researchers.

And the faster those researchers can get the cells, the sooner some of them will be able to develop therapies for devastating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and depression, Stice believes.

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