‘Don’t listen to people who are too scared to dream’
BioEden USA – THE interview with Mike Byrom, Chief Scientific Officer and Founder Member
In this interview founder member and renowned stem cell scientist talks candidly about his latest work and the future of stem cell therapy
What were the key factors that led to the launch of BioEden in 2006?
We wanted to help people. There are so many conditions for which there is no effective treatment and stem cells have the potential to treat many of those conditions. We had the knowledge, the material, and the desire necessary so we founded BioEden to help bring treatment options to patients that had none.
More and more parents are banking their children’s tooth cells. Why now?
People are beginning to understand what stem cells can do. It is similar to a retirement savings account (pension). If you wait until retirement age to begin saving you will never have enough money. If you try and wait until you need the stem cells you will not have the quality material needed to treat debilitating conditions. Cells must be saved while they are young in order to preserve their functionality for when we are older and need them. People now understand this fundamental concept when we have the chance to explain it to them. It then becomes an obvious choice just like saving for retirement.
What are the most important decisions you make as BioEden’s Chief Scientific Officer?
The most important decisions I make are related to collaborative research. We work with many researchers to develop effective applications for tooth stem cells. There are so many different potential applications that we could never work on and fund all of them so we must limit ourselves and decide which ones to work on. Identifying the right collaborators, securing funding for research projects, interpretation of the research data and distribution of that information to the right people that are capable and willing to move the project along are all challenging tasks. These decisions are critical to our success and the treatment options of BioEden Members.
Which one piece of advice would you give to a parent when considering their child’s healthcare needs?
Don’t listen to people who are too scared to dream. Just because a therapy is not available today does not mean that it will not become available. People once believed that the world was flat, that flight was impossible and that no one could ever travel to the moon. If we had listened to people that said it is not possible because we can’t do it today then no great achievement of mankind would have been accomplished. Stem cells will change the lives of every living person in the future. Imagine a time when you can replace your heart, liver, kidneys or any body part at will. It is not possible today but I believe it will be possible in the future.
Are you working on any special projects or research?
Yes we are working on several different research projects with different collaborators. The details cannot be released until they are published however I can say we are working on liver regeneration, treatment for diabetes, bone regeneration and treatment for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. It is all very exciting to see the progress being made and to know that it will save lives in the future. It will not only save lives but it will improve the quality of life for many people that struggle with serious health issues from day to day.
Where do you see stem cell therapy 10 years from now?
I am asked all the time ‘when will a therapy for xyz become available?’ If I had a crystal ball I would purchase a winning lottery ticket. It is impossible to say when something will be available because there are too many unknowns in the process and most of the unknown are outside of our sphere of influence. Regulatory considerations by country, funding issues, patent and other intellectual property rights, therapeutic partners, approval by insurance companies for treatment and hundreds of other issues must all be addressed.
I know that stem cells are capable of amazing things, things that currently seem impossible to achieve. I believe that we will see a continual string of new approved therapies for the treatment of conditions with the use of stem cells over the next 10 to 20 years. People will become accustomed to their use and will look to stem cells as their treatment of choice for many conditions.
For information on banking your own cells please contact BioEden on 0208 4770 336.
Mike Byrom was talking to Sue Wilkinson.