SFGate is running a rare article on the challenges of transforming medical research into commercially successful therapies. This part of the overall development process is poorly understood - and unappreciated - by most people, which is a pity. The article examines the the development and future prospects of stem cell medicine: "Stem cells, the all-purpose starting material that gives rise to the myriad cell types of the body, are widely assumed to be the basic building blocks of 21st century medicine. Stem cells, whether they are derived from embryos or adult tissues, are perhaps the single most important factor shaping biomedicine today." Industry observers expect to see the first widespread stem cell applications within ten years.