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« Proposition 71 to Fund Stem Cell Research Passes in California | Main | EU Members Agree to Allow Scientists to be Mobile »

November 10, 2004

Comments

Jeff Donohue

If I read the text of Proposition 71 right, there will be some sort of retained financial right (royalties?) that California will have in connection with grants. It appears that it will be more than just a Bayh-Dole style retained "march in" right. I'm curious to see what sorts of financial terms will be presented to businesses working on very early stage stuff...

Also, I'm curious whether the focus on stem cell research might miss the boat. I'm always weary of government trying to pick winners in science or business (or both, in this case), so I wonder if California might be better served by grants to biotechnology generally, including but not limited to stem cell technology based companies. One argument in favor would be this fills the gaps where NIH leaves off, but these grants seem to be targeted at a different pool of possible recipients than NIH grants are.

- Jeff Donohue

[My personal view, not the view of my employer...]

Cece Gassner

Hi Jeff -

You're right (or so I think) about the retained financial rights, so yes, it will be more than just march-in rights. I share your basic concern about government leaping on the bandwagon for any one technology (and also for shutting the door on pursuing a certain technology). I'm not as concerned here as they've given themselves an "out" with regards to where the money is directed. Section 2 of the Constitutional amendment will allow the Institute to direct funding not only to stem cell research but also "other vital research opportunities" related to "major diseases, injuries and orphan diseases." So it's an incredible amount of money but if in a few years it looks like there really won't be promise in the area, they can start directing the monies to other areas of research that touch on the same diseases, but are for different therapies. I think this funding will at least be a good start to see if there is something to stem cell therapies, so that we don't close off a potentially large avenue to cure the diseases that afflict so many.

No matter what the therapy, when the science is in its infancy, there is always a chance it won't work out after all. But, IMHO, it's better to explore it a bit and at least check out what the potential could be rather than cutting it off at the knees.

I think the NIH grants would be there for this pool if the current administration did not insist on its policy of no federal funds for embryonic stem cell lines and research.

Cece Gassner

Hi Jeff -

You're right (or so I think) about the retained financial rights, so yes, it will be more than just march-in rights. I share your basic concern about government leaping on the bandwagon for any one technology (and also for shutting the door on pursuing a certain technology). I'm not as concerned here as they've given themselves an "out" with regards to where the money is directed. Section 2 of the Constitutional amendment will allow the Institute to direct funding not only to stem cell research but also "other vital research opportunities" related to "major diseases, injuries and orphan diseases." So it's an incredible amount of money but if in a few years it looks like there really won't be promise in the area, they can start directing the monies to other areas of research that touch on the same diseases, but are for different therapies. I think this funding will at least be a good start to see if there is something to stem cell therapies, so that we don't close off a potentially large avenue to cure the diseases that afflict so many.

No matter what the therapy, when the science is in its infancy, there is always a chance it won't work out after all. But, IMHO, it's better to explore it a bit and at least check out what the potential could be rather than cutting it off at the knees.

I think the NIH grants would be there for this pool if the current administration did not insist on its policy of no federal funds for embryonic stem cell lines and research.

ann philips

I am a 50 year old woman with ms that I have had for 18 years. Last month I traveled from New York to SanDiego so that I could receive a cord blood stem cell transplant in Mexico. The clinc in Mexico sent a shuttle to my hotel and picked up my self and others over 3 days to take us to Mexico for treatment. We should not have to go out of the country for this. Everyone is so hung up on the embryonic stem cells that they seem to miss the point that cord blood stem cells are proven to do as good (if not better) than the embryonic cells. I wish everyone would stop pushing and shoving and just get on with this research. Until then people will be going to Mexico and (after April) Toronto, Canada for these treatments. (By the way, I am seeing small improvements with my MS every week)

Fred

Hi Ann,

I'm not aware of any proof of efficacy for embryonic stem cells or umbilical cord stem cells for treatment of MS. Can you direct me to literature that documents this PROOF? If its anecdotal, then don't bother.

thanks

Jeff Donohue

Ann,

I do sincerely hope your MS improves.

I think we're talking about two different things, though. The ban that CeCe is referring to applies to funding research of embryonic stem cell lines; it does not cover non-embryonic stem cells (like umbilical cords). The ban is not the reason why you can't get the treatment in the US.

The fact that you couldn't get cord blood stem cell treatment for your MS in the US is a result of the fact that the FDA has not approved any such treatment yet. Based on what I've seen, the reason the FDA has not approved it is that there hasn't been sufficient scientific evidence presented to the FDA to demonstrate that it is safe and effective. While it may be the case that some day, someone will be able to demonstrate this (and there are many companies working on just that with huge financial incentives to succeed), right now it's certainly questionable.

You might find this link interesting:

http://www.quackwatch.org/06ResearchProjects/stemcell.html

- Jeff Donohue

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