Stem Cell Stocks: Mending Scarred Hearts


A new study at Johns Hopkins University has shown that stem cells from patients' own cardiac tissue can be used to heal scarred tissue after a heart attack. This is certainly exciting news considering heart failure is still the No. 1 cause of death in men and women.

The study included 25 heart attack victims, 17 of whom got the stem cell treatment. Those patients saw a 50% reduction in cardiac scar tissue after one year, while the eight control patients saw no improvement.

The procedure involves removing a tiny portion of heart tissue through a needle, cultivating the stem cells from that tissue, and reinserting them in a second minimally invasive procedure, according to Bloomberg.

"If we can regenerate the whole heart, then the patient would be completely normal," said Eduardo Marban, director of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute who was the study's lead author. "We haven't fulfilled that yet, but we've gotten rid of half of the injury, and that's a good start."

Business section: Investing ideas
Interested in investing in the promise that stem cell therapy holds? For a look at the investing landscape, we compiled a list of the 10 largest companies involved in stem cell therapy.

Do you think this industry will see growth from stem cell research? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. BioTime (NYS: BTX) : Focuses on regenerative medicine and blood plasma volume expanders. Market cap at $291.95M. The company develops and markets research products in the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine. It develops therapeutic products derived from stem cells for the treatment of retinal and neural degenerative diseases; cardiovascular and blood diseases; therapeutic applications of stem cells to treat orthopedic diseases, injuries, and cancer; and retinal cell product for use in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration.

2. Cleveland BioLabs (NAS: CBLI) : Market cap at $111.50M. Its products include Protectan CBLB502, a radioprotectant molecule with multiple medical and defense applications for reducing injury from acute stresses, such as radiation and chemotherapy by mobilizing various natural cell protecting mechanisms, including inhibition of apoptosis, reduction of oxidative damage, and induction of factors that induce protection and regeneration of stem cells in bone marrow and the intestines, and Protectan CBLB612, a modified lipopeptide mycoplasma that acts as a stimulator and mobilizer of hematopoietic stem cells to peripheral blood, providing hematopoietic recovery during chemotherapy and during donor preparation for bone marrow transplantation.

3. Gentium: Focuses on the development and manufacture of its primary product candidate, defibrotide, an investigational drug based on a mixture of single-stranded and double-stranded DNA extracted from pig intestines. Market cap at $128.29M. The company develops defibrotide for the treatment and prevention of hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD), a condition that occurs when veins in the liver are blocked as a result of cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation, that are administered prior to stem cell transplantation.

4. Geron (NAS: GERN) : Develops biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases, including spinal cord injury, heart failure, and diabetes. Market cap at $265.57M. The company has licensing agreement with the University Campus Suffolk to develop human embryonic stem cell-derived chondrocytes for the treatment of cartilage damage and joint disease.

5. Harvard Bioscience: Develops, manufactures, and markets apparatus and scientific instruments used in life science research in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, universities, and government laboratories in the United States and internationally. Market cap at $118.28M. Develops devices used by clinicians and researchers in the field of regenerative medicine, including bioreactors for growing tissue and organs outside the body, and injectors for stem cell therapy.

6. Lydall (NYS: LDL) : Designs and manufactures specialty engineered products for thermal/acoustical, filtration/separation, and bio/medical applications in the United States. Market cap at $163.44M. In addition, it offers Cell-Freeze, a medical device used for cryogenic storage of peripheral blood stem cells.

8. Osiris Therapeutics (NAS: OSIR) : Focuses on the development and marketing of therapeutic products to treat various medical conditions in the inflammatory, autoimmune, orthopedic, and cardiovascular areas. Market cap at $157.26M. A stem cell company, focuses on the development and marketing of therapeutic products to treat various medical conditions in the inflammatory, autoimmune, orthopedic, and cardiovascular areas.

7. Verastem: Market cap at $229.00M. Focuses on discovering and developing proprietary small molecule drugs targeting cancer stem cells (CSCs) in breast and other cancers.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

Kapitall's Alexander Crawford does not own any of the shares mentioned above.

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