This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, August 10, 2001.
TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: Well, shares of companies involved in stem cell research didn`t fare well on Wall Street today. Geron, StemCells and Aastrom Biosciences all lower on the session, probably because President Bush called for limited funding during his address last night.
Geron holds the rights to the cloning techniques behind Dolly the sheep. The company also stands to benefit again, but by how much?
Let`s ask Geron`s president and CEO, Dr. Thomas Odarko (sic). He joins us from Palo Alto, California.
Doctor, welcome. Good to have you with us.
THOMAS OKARMA, PRESIDENT & CEO, GERON: Hi. I’m Tom Okarma.
KEENAN: Okarma, excuse me. We had a little spelling error there. Thank you.
So, Dr. Okarma, let me ask you, first of all, what do you think of the president’s decision? Are you happy with it?
OKARMA: Well, it certainly is a step in the right direction. From our perspective, our corporate frustration has been our inability to share our evolving technology with NIH-funded researchers as we’ve been able to do previously with are polymerase technology. So the funding dollars are not really at issue here for us. It’s simply the availability now of a route to formally collaborate with a number of academic institutions who can help move this technology forward.
KEENAN: So does this represent a green light for you or speed bump?
OKARMA: Oh, it’s a green light in the perspective that we’ll now be able to collaborate widely with many NIH-funded researchers, who were prior to yesterday prohibited from working on these cells.
KEENAN: There’s been some question about the number of stem cell lines out there. The president used the number 60. Other scientists today have been disputing it. You’re certainly an expert on this. What number would you put it at?
OKARMA: Well, we were surprised at the number 60 as well, thinking it was actually fewer than that. We have not made a practice of trying to count the lines. So I’m not sure how many there are.
I think the more important issue is whether the existing lines will form a suitable foundation for the kind of research that needs to take place. And certainly speaking for the lines that we have been working on for over two years at Geron, the answer is yes. These cells are immortal, they are self-renewing. And we have characterized them by having grown them continuously for over two years. We’ve shown that the cells we can make from them -- liver cells, heart muscle cells and nerve cells -- are stable, and that the ability to generate these cells does not change over the life-span of the embryonic stem cell.
So just a few lines provide very redundant tissue samples for the research that’s needed.
KEENAN: OK, thanks. Thanks for your perspective on all of this. Dr. Thomas Okarma of Geron.
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