Monday, February 21, 2005

The $200 Million Catbird Seat

Wisconsin could siphon off $200 million in future revenues generated by the California stem cell agency, according to one estimate.

The figure was contained in a story in the Milwaukee Journal written by reporter Kathleen Gallagher. It was the first significant media overview of the potential connections between CIRM and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which is known as WARF.

She wrote: "The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, or WARF, has two basic patents that broadly cover the preparation of embryonic stem cells, the basic material from which virtually all organs, cells and other body tissues are formed.
If therapies are developed from the research, WARF could be due royalty payments.

" ‘You can allocate $3 billion for research, but you can't spend your way past the basic patents that are in the field,’ said Peter Balbus, managing director at Pragmaxis LLC. The Glen Ellyn, Ill., company helps commercialize technology. ‘I think WARF is really in the catbird's seat.’ "

Balbus gave the preliminary estimate of $200 million going to WARF if the stem cell agency were to generate $4 billion annually in stem cell revenues, a figure cited by Prop. 71 backers.

Gallagher's story is definitely worth a look.

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