Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Where's the Money?

Even today headlines talk about the stem cell "gold rush" in California. And it is years after the Prop. 71 campaign financed a study that seemed to promise as much as $1 billion to the state from state-backed stem cell research.

While the headlines may reflect a paucity of imagination on the part of headline writers, the dreams of buckets and buckets of stem cell cash still energize much of the dialogue concerning ESC research.

Jesse Reynolds, writing on the blog Biopolitical Times, recently revisited the subject of stem cell swag. The occasion for commentary was an article in Nature Biotechnology.

Reynolds, who works for the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, said what is remarkable about the piece is what's missing. He wrote:
"There’s no reference to the over-the-top -- yet widely-cited -- optimistic scenarios spun in an economic analysis that was widely touted, and funded, by the campaign to establish the (California) state program."
Reynolds noted that Stanford University professor of health research and policy Laurence Baker was a co-author of both the Prop. 71 campaign study and the Nature Biotechnology article, a fact that Reynolds said was not acknowledged in the magazine.

Reynolds said Baker furiously backpedaled from his campaign study. Reynolds quoted the Nature Biotechnology article as saying:
"[A]t this point predicting particular breakthroughs or economic benefits would amount to little more than speculation.... New stem cell therapies will not necessarily reduce [health care] spending; indeed they may drive spending up...Forecasting and even retrospectively assessing the success of Proposition 71's IP provisions will be extremely difficult."
The economic promises of stem cell research are as of much interest today as they were three years ago. Lawmakers are currently struggling to ensure that the state does, in fact, share in any profits. The biotech industry and CIRM are opposed to that legislation (SB771), authored by State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, chair of the Senate Health Committee.

CIRM itself is in the midst of drawing up rules for revenue sharing involving future grants to California businesses. And elsewhere in the country, other states are launching stem cell research efforts, peddling the idea that it can funnel vast economic benefits into the state. Sphere: Related Content


  1. Merely fyi:


  2. Anonymous8:25 PM

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