Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Silence of the Scientists

Consumer Watchdog, the Santa Monica, Ca., group that has spent more time and money than any other organization monitoring California stem cell matters, today chastized a trio of major researchers for their failure to speak out on an issue that some contend is holding back not only the science but the industry.

Writing on his organization's blog, John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for the group, discussed the dispute that involves Irv Weissman of Stanford, Fred Gage of the Salk Institute and David Anderson of Caltech and indirectly their institutions.

StemCells Inc. of Palo Alto, Ca., which was founded by the three researchers, is "thwarting noncommercial neural stem cell research" at Children's Hospital of Orange County as part of the company's zealous protection of its patents, Simpson said.

The springboard for Simpson's latest commentary was an article about the matter by Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times. It pointed out that some experts believe that over-protection of IP is hampering stem cell science and even the high tech industry.

Simpson's piece was headlined "A deafening -- and embarassing -- $ilence" and substituted a "$" for the "S" in silence.

Simpson wrote,
"This is a situation that should have been settled easily in a month, if not a week. After a two-year stalemate the silence is deafening."
The three researchers have not responded to requests for comments from Hiltzik nor from earlier ones from the California Stem Cell Report. We are renewing our queries and have promised the men that we will carry their comments verbatim.

You can read our earlier item on the Hiltzik piece here.

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