Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Stem Cell Snippets: Advocacy, Public Support and Weissman

ESC Gospel – What is going on with Robert Klein's Americans for Stem Cell Therapies and Cures? One current activity is recruitment of more missionaries to spread the ESC gospel. The group has about 150 speakers across the country. It is looking for 1,000. You can read more about the effort on stemcellbattles.com, the blog of stem cell advocate Don Reed. Klein, as most of you recall, is also chairman of the California stem cell agency in addition to presiding over the lobbying group.

Stem Cell Investing – The tough business of biotech investing was discussed in a piece by Andy Pollack of the New York Times. An excerpt: "The difficulty of taking companies public, especially at values they find attractive, has become a lament of biotech venture capitalists, and it is forcing changes in their strategies. Instead of a way to cash out, the initial offering is now a chance to keep a company going until, hopefully, the venture investors can sell their stock later."

Squishy Public Support -- Jesse Reynolds of the Center for Genetics and Society discusses the nature of public support for ESC research and the most recent public opinion polls. Supporters of ESC research find constant hope in the polls. On the basis of decades of watching polls on politics as well as other subjects, the California Stem Cell Report believes that embryonic stem cell research is poorly understood by most Americans and is still a new subject to most persons. That means potentially mercurial support that can be easily undermined by changing events or skillful marketing.

Weissman – Stem "cellist" Irv Weissman speaks on "What Stem Cells Mean to Science, Medicine and California" Jan. 9 at a meeting of Silicom (cq) Ventures in Mountain View. Weissman is director of the Institute for Cancer and Stem Cell Biology at Stanford and helped found three stem cell companies (Cellerant, SyStemix and Stem Cells, Inc.). Tickets are $150 for nonmembers of the venture capital group.

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