Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nature Reports on CIRM External Review and Industry Reaction

“Positive review for California stem cell agency” – that's the headline on the Nature magazine's Web site concerning the assessment of CIRM by a blue-ribbon panel.

The piece by Alla Katsnelson began:
"The first comprehensive external review of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has come to overwhelmingly positive conclusions about the state stem cell agency’s progress. But some in the biotech community continue to grumble that the agency, which began operations in 2006(sic), is focusing too much on basic research rather than fulfilling its mandate of taking stem cell therapies from bench to bedside."
The Nature article noted that the report recommended more engagement with industry. Katsnelson then wrote,
"But some say that many of these things should already have been done. 'You’ve got to remember, their whole mandate is commercialization,' says Bill Caldwell, CEO of Massachusetts-based(sic) stem cell company Advanced Cell Technology (ACT). What the agency should have done, he says, is identified 3-5 potential therapies that were “low-hanging fruit' in terms of clinical development. 'Let’s get those through and into the clinic so that we can demonstrate to the world that the [human embryonic stem cell] platform has value,' he says.
"Also, Caldwell notes, the agency should already have called for project proposals that tackle some technical areas that need work, such as techniques for the cryoprotection of cells, as well as methods to coax cells into dividing more rapidly. 'These are commercial issues that can help these products move into the market,' he says."
Nature also quoted an item from this Web site.
"A commenter to the California Stem Cell Report blog, identified as 'an executive/scientist from a California biotech firm who must remain anonymous,' echoed Caldwell’s sentiments. 'If CIRM was to hold true to its promise to deliver products in 10 years, then it needed to start translational activities immediately and not building infrastructure for already rich universities like Stanford, who enjoy $10B plus endowments,' the commenter wrote."

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this item incorrectly carried Caldwell's first name as Bob not Bill.) Sphere: Related Content

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