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VistaGen (VSTA) Sees Promise for Stem Cell ‘Breakthrough’ to Accelerate Drug Discovery and Development

VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc. welcomes news of the technological discovery reported this week that reprograms adult skin cells into human universal cells, according to H. Ralph Snodgrass, Ph.D., president and CEO. VistaGen is a platform-enabled biopharmaceutical company applying embryonic stem cell technologies to discover, develop and commercialize small molecule drugs and protein therapeutics for diabetes and neurological disorders.

“This is very positive news both for our company and our industry,” said Dr. Snodgrass. “Any new discovery or technology that enables the generation of diverse embryonic stem cells, especially those unique to specific diseases, is very useful. Our technologies enable us to differentiate embryonic stem cells into mature cells for leading-edge customized drug discovery and screening assays. We anticipate that this advancement should be able to complement our existing technologies by enabling us to focus with greater efficiency on specific genetic diseases, and on drugs that are safe and effective for a genetically diverse patient population.”

The discovery, reported both by James A. Thomson, the University of Wisconsin researcher who extracted stem cells from human embryos originally, and by Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, showed that adult skin cells can be reprogrammed to mimic embryonic stem cells by adding four genes. The genes reprogrammed the chromosomes of the skin cells, making the cells into blank slates that should be able to turn into any of the 220 cell types of the human body, such as heart, brain, blood or bone.

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