Tuesday, July 31, 2012

$20 Million in Stem Cell Irony

A bit of irony popped up this week in the wake of approval of $151 million in awards by the California stem cell agency.

One of the awards was $20 million to StemCells, Inc., of Newark, Ca., which is also fighting hard for another $20 million from the state research enterprise.

However, back in 2008, Kenneth Stratton, general counsel for the firm, put some distance between his company and the agency, which is handing out $3 billion in toto.

Stratton said,
"We will take CIRM money last. We don't want to be in a position where, years from now, we are actually forced to sell [our products] in California at a loss."
But last week, Martin McGlynn, CEO of StemCells, said in a press release,
“We are extremely grateful to CIRM for its support.”
Times have changed for both the company and CIRM, which is in the process of altering the intellectual property rules that offended Stratton in 2008. The changes were due to be approved last Thursday, but action was put off by the CIRM board. It was overwhelmed as it dealt with the record pace of appeals by researchers who were scrambling to overturn negative decisions by grant reviewers.

StemCells' application for another $20 million is one of those being appealed. The board will take it up again in either September or late October, after it undergoes additional scrutiny by the agency.

CIRM is touting its IP changes as being more friendly to business. They also can be made retroactive to cover awards to business made in the past. CIRM directors expect to meet by telephone, probably in August, to approve the new IP rules.

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