Monday, January 15, 2007

Histostem: hope for ethical stem cell therapies

It's 2007 and that means the pro-human embryonic stem cell research (pro
-hESCR) folks are out in full regalia introducing local and federal legislation to use human embryos as research material.

Besides trying to convince people of good will that using embryos for spare parts is wrong, I am following up on the progress of Histostem, the South Korea cord blood researchers doing clinical trials for a variety of therapies.
When their chief financial officer Y.S. Kye came to Delaware last year, I was impressed by his realism and lack of hype. He and I talked about what a disadvantage non-US researchers were at simply because they did not come from the Promised Land. Add to that the scandal of his fellow South Korean falsely reporting cloning success, and you can see that it's not easy being a non-US scientist doing non-embryonic stem cell research.

So I'm going to collate some information on Histostem and its efforts. I would like to help YS Kye find partners in the US research community. In particular, if a reputable Delaware hospital or a high-profile patient got involved with Histostem, it could be the proverbian "win-win" situation. But everyone is skeptical, and with good reason. Its hard to separate hype from hope in such a politically charged biotech environment.

So first, here's the resume of the two chief officers of Histostem:

Dr. Hoon Han, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Founder, Chairman of the Board of Directors. He served as Executive Director of Catholic University of Korea Umbilical Cord Bank, and Executive Director of Catholic University of Korea Hematopoietic Stem Cell Bank, Seoul, Korea from 1994 to 2002. He was a professor in and Chairman for the Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine at the Catholic University of Korea from 1986 to 2002. He serves on several professional associations including as Secretary of the Korean Journal of Biological Response Modifiers since 1999, Vice President of Korean Society for Biomaterials since 1998, Member of International
Society for Experimental Hematology since 1999, and Member of American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics since 1991. He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the Catholic University of Korea in 1988; Medical Doctor in Medicine from the Catholic University of Korea in 1979; an
]d Masters Degree in Microbiology from the Catholic University of Korea in 1981.

Prior to founding Histostem-Korea, Dr. Han was the Chairman of the Department of Microbiology in the College of Medicine at the Catholic University of Korea from 1986-2002. Also at the Catholic University of Korea, Dr. Han was the Executive Director of the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Bank and the Umbilical Cord Blood Bank. Dr. Han and Histostem-Korea originated and developed a method for extracting stem cells from human umbilical cord blood.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO):

Mr. Yung-Su, Kye is responsible for the Company’s finance and strategic planning and policies, comprising of strategic financial planning and auditing. Prior to joining Histostem, Mr. Kye was the Managing Director and CFO of Haitai Confectionery Co., Ltd., Korea’s second largest food and confectionery manufacturing company, from 2001 – 2005 and served as Vice President, CFO and HR Director of Doosan Seagram (now Diageo Korea) from 2000 to 2001. Mr. Kye was the Executive Director of Finance
(CFO) for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Korea Ltd. for ten years, from 1990 to 2000. Mr. Kye also worked at Ford Motor Company in the U.S. and LG (now GS) Construction Co. in Korea. Mr. Kye holds a master’s degree in Management from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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