Sunday, October 01, 2006

Wisconsin Rachets Up Its Stem Cell Pitch

Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle is in a re-election campaign. And like Arnold, Jim is courting the stem cell vote.

Last week Doyle announced that Wisconsin is not going to take the Golden State's $3 billion stem cell research program lying down.

He announced that Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) "will offer free, non-exclusive licenses to conduct embryonic stem cell research to companies that are sponsoring such research at Wisconsin non-profit and academic institutions," according to a story by reporter Kathleen Gallagher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Reporter Anita Weier wrote in the Wisconsin State Journal:
"The agreement will give the state a significant competitive edge over California and other states that have been investing heavily in stem cell research. Doyle hopes to lure research companies to the state in order to capture 10 percent of the national stem cell market by 2015."
On the topic of challenges to WARF's patents by two nonprofit groups, Gallagher quoted Beth Donley, WARF's attorney, as saying,
"I find it fairly hypocritical that California says things like 'They need to get the dollar signs out of their eyes' because we license our technology to raise money to fund our research.

"We're just doing it the Midwestern way: We made an invention, and we're licensing this technology to fund the research, rather than like in California, where they borrow $3 billion, then hope to make an invention and repay the money."
Jerry Flanagan is a health care advocate with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumers Rights, one of the nonprofit groups challenging the WARF patents.

Reacting to Doyle's move, he said,
"The agreement between Gov. Doyle and WARF is an acknowledgment that the overly broad WARF patents stymie research and delay cures. It is absurd that WARF, or any organization, could own the rights to life itself. For the good of patients, these patents must be dissolved."
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