03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Top European Drugmakers Back Stem Cell Testing

Three of Europe's top drugmakers have backed a new public-private scheme to use stem cells for safety testing of experimental medicines, signaling "big pharma's" growing interest in the controversial field.

Stem Cells for Safer Medicines Ltd, a non-profit British company launched on Wednesday, will focus initially on developing better ways of testing for liver toxicity -- the biggest single cause of drug failures and withdrawals.

GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Roche have each paid 100,000 pounds ($200,000) to help fund the first year's work, while the British government is contributing 750,000 pounds.

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