Wednesday, May 01, 2013

hESC Research Totals $458 Million out of $1.8 Billion from California Stem Cell Agency

The California stem cell agency today said that it has awarded $458 million to fund research involving human embryonic stem cells (hESC) out of a total of $1.8 billion it has given away during the past eight years.

The amount is of some interest because the key reason that the agency now exists is the perceived need in 2004 to fund hESC research in the wake of the Bush Administration restrictions on federal funding in that area. The restrictions created a national uproar in the scientific and patient advocate community, which feared that promising therapies would never be developed.

The $35 million ballot campaign to create the agency focused hard on hESC research to the virtual exclusion of any mention of adult stem cell research. Opposing the effort were such forces as the anti-abortion movement and the Catholic church. But this month LifeNews.com carried a mildly approving item that pointed to the agency's turn towards adult stem cell research.

When the Obama administration lifted the Bush restrictions, some questions were raised about the need for the California effort, which is costing state taxpayers $6 billion, including interest. But those concerns received little public attention and quickly died out.

Funding for the agency comes through state bonds. Cash for new awards is scheduled to run out in 2017. The agency is looking at developing a public-private effort for thefuture that would need a $50 to $200 million “public investment” and major private funding.

Amy Adams, CIRM's communications manager, provided the $458 million figure following publication of this item yesterday on the California Stem Cell Report.
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