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Bioessays. 2008 Sep;30(9):897-903. doi: 10.1002/bies.20797.

The birth of therapy with cultured cells.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Medical School, 240 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Long ago, I set out to solve a problem, but something happened along the way: I was diverted by an unexpected observation. Thereafter, the direction of my research was guided at each stage by increasing familiarity with the experimental material and what could be done with it. The result was the birth of therapy with cultured keratinocytes. Subsequent developments soon led to the formation of the company Biosurface Technology (later taken over by the Genzyme Corporation), which provided autologous cultures for burn victims in many parts of the world. Further progress by others led to new therapeutic applications of cultured keratinocytes, such as treatment of an ocular disease and gene therapy. Unfortunately, there have developed serious regulatory problems that are a danger to future progress. As described in this brief history, the initial stages of development of cell therapy for the treatment of human disease were possible only because there was no restraint by committees or governmental regulations.

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