Thursday, September 07, 2006

Senators Scold Visibily Shaken Lanza

The flogging of ACT continues.

Two U.S. senators "lashed out" yesterday and "scolded" Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology of Alameda, Ca., concerning the company's recent announcement of a new method of obtaining embryonic stem cells.

"You're on the ropes!" a combative Arlen Specter, R-Pa., told Lanza, according to an account in the Washington Post written by Rick Weiss, who reported that Lanza was visibily shaken. Sen. Tom Harken, D-Iowa, also scolded Lanza.

Both Harken and Specter support ESC research. They told Lanza at a Senate subcommittee hearing that he and his company have, according to Weiss, "harmed the struggling field by overstating their results."

It is not often that a scientist is blessed with such attention from such august public servants.

Also excoriating ACT, but in a different forum, was Glenn McGee, director of the Alden March Bioethics Institute.

He wrote on his blog:
"If there is a school to teach scientists how to screw up the pursuit of PR, ACT has the professors on retainer."
McGee continued:
"I continue to be amazed at the degree to which this company manages to do more harm to the battle to get embryonic stem cell research funded than could any concerted right wing campaign against the research. ACT is the Kevorkian of stem cell research."
Weighing in from Nature magazine was Alison Abbot. She wrote about the ongoing flap and the magazine's actions, declaring:
"No one is suggesting that Lanza's paper is in any way scientifically incorrect, but many in the field have its overall packaging. 'Perhaps 'word-smithy' is the right term,' comments George Daley of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute."
The Wall Street Journal also carried a piece on Tuesday by David Hamilton and Antonio Regalado, who wrote:
"Advanced Cell has capitalized on the research. Two days after the research was published, the company announced that it had raised $13.5 million from its existing investors, with the first part of the transaction set to close Sept. 7. The company's share price has since fallen considerably since it reached the agreement, closing on Friday, Sept. 1, at 71 cents a share, down more than 70% from the post-announcement high although still above where it was before the announcement."
In terms of coverage, it seems interesting that California papers did not pick up on yesterday's Washington hearing, except for a brief report in the Oakland Tribune.

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