Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Some Unhappy with CIRM's Strategic Plan

Reporter Steve Johnson of the San Jose Mercury News also moved quickly on the CIRM strategic plan, reporting in the lead of his story that the proposal dismayed some advocates of the sick and disabled.

Here are some excerpts:
"Zach Hall, the institute's president, said he and others who developed the plan were extremely careful about wording it so it set obtainable goals that didn't unrealistically raise the public's hopes.

"'One of the points really is to try to educate people about what a long process it is to get any `therapeutic' approved,' said Hall, who predicted it might take 15 years before the institute's research results in a medical product."
Johnson continued:
"But others found the plan's cautious approach disheartening.

"'I consider this report's estimate to err on the side of over-caution,' said Don Reed of Fremont, whose son was left a quadriplegic after he broke his neck in a college football game. "While it is right and proper for scientists to be careful,' said Reed, who attends many of the institute's meetings, "I take a more optimistic view. In 10 years, I expect my paralyzed son, Roman Reed, to be walking.'

"That sentiment was echoed by 60-year-old Bill Franklin of Los Altos, who has suffered from Parkinson's disease for 11 years.

"'There's no reason for things to take that long,' said Franklin, who worked to help pass Proposition 71, which created the stem-cell institute. 'People with PD and other diseases, they want things to happen faster.'"
Johnson also had comments from two CIRM Oversight Committee members:
"Jeff Sheehy, a member of the institute's board who suffers from AIDS and participated in the group that developed the plan, said no matter what progress companies make, it's vital for the institute to proceed cautiously and methodically.

"'There still is a lot of work that will need to be done to make these therapies widely available and safe,' he said. 'This is a daunting scientific challenge.'

"Joan Samuelson, a board member with Parkinson's disease, agreed that the institute needs to be thorough. 'But we also are in a rush,'' she added. 'That means every day we report to duty as if somebody is dying.'"
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