Sunday, November 02, 2008

Potholes in Freeways vs. Therapies in the Clinic

"Where are the cures?" is the headline on the piece in the Nov. 10 issue of Newsweek.

The article by science columnist Sharon Begley virtually cried out for a sidebar on California.

Begley wrote about the "valley of death," translational research and the need for industrial skills that can make the production of stem cell therapies economic.

She quoted Hans Kierstead of UC Irvine, mentioned Geron of Menlo Park, Ca., as well as a proposal to create a "center for cures" at the NIH. Along the way, she noted that scientists involved in basic research are wary of the "center" proposal – a feeling that has surfaced indirectly at the California stem cell agency.

But Begley said:
"The existence of such a center would free scientists to go back to making important discoveries, not figuring out large-scale pipetting, for goodness' sake."
All of what Begley wrote about is on the $3 billion plate at the California stem cell agency. And some of the CIRM actions are coming quite soon. The "valley of death," for example, is scheduled to be dealt with next month through a $500 million lending program. Waiting for action from the new presidential administration is not good enough for CIRM Chairman Robert Klein and company.

As Begley concluded:
"There is lots of talk these days about increasing the nation's spending on infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, to lift the economy out of its doldrums. Me, I'd be willing to put up with potholes in exchange for a new administration spending serious money to take the discoveries taxpayers have paid for and turn them into cures."
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