Exploradio: Cleveland’s growing stem cell scene

Interview/Story excerpt provided by WKSU.

By Jeff St. Clair

Stem cells can differentiate into any type of tissue, but growing them on a large scale is tricky.

We’re in a crowded lab in the Cleveland Clinic’s business incubator building just off the main campus where Gilkey points to a big glass-fronted case. It’s a barrier isolator, or in his words, “a clean-room in a box.”

He reaches a gloved hand in to show me a tray of tiny vials.

Gilkey believes stem cells could revolutionize medicine by tapping into the body’s ability to heal itself.

They’re being used to treat everything from diabetes to heart disease, stroke to bowel disorders.

It’s a nearly $12 billion worldwide industry, ripe for the kind of technology being developed by Gilkey and his partners at the Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, and University Hospitals.

The venture, called Ohio – Alive is also funded by the state’s Third Frontier program.

The goal, says Gilkey, is to put Cleveland on the biomedical map by helping streamline the manufacturing of therapeutic stem cells.

Listen to Exploradio: Stem Cells.

Originally published November 10, 2014.

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