“It would be nice to have an overall update on how much as been spent on California's stem cell research project and what progress has been made.”
“(B)iomedical engineer Professor Michael Sefton declared that within 10 years, scientists would have grown an entire heart, fit for transplant. 'We're shooting big,' he said. 'Our vision is that we'll be able to pop out a damaged heart and replace it as easily as you would replace a carburetor in a car.'
“Fifteen years on, however, we've had some liver cells, eye cells, even a lab-grown burger, but no whole human organs. We could be forgiven for asking: where's our heart? It does seem strange that a field stoking so much excitement could be so far off the mark. Speaking last week about the vision that he and his colleagues outlined in 1998, Sefton said they had been 'hopelessly naïve.' As time plodded on and an understanding of the biological complexity increased, the task seemed bigger and bigger. Even now, a cacophony of headlines later, we are not much further ahead.
“Chris Mason is a professor of regenerative medicine at University College London and believes that concentrating on organ regeneration is missing a trick. 'These organs are immensely complex,' he said. 'They've got nerves, blood vessels, in the case of the liver, a bile system – there are huge degrees of complexity. These things take a long time to grow in humans, let alone in the lab without all the natural cues that occur in the growing embryo.'"
“There's a tension in medical research between the glory of the big discovery and the assiduous commitment to real application. 'We're hoping the scope and possibilities of this project will catch the public's imagination,' Sefton concluded in 1998. It did, but perhaps the public's imagination isn't always what science should be vying for.”
“The challenge of moving its research programs closer to the clinic and California’s large biotechnology sector is certainly on CIRM’s agenda, but substantial achievements in this arena remain to be made.”