Friday, May 02, 2014

CIRM 2.0 and Randy Mills: Crystallizing a 'Tidal Shift' at the California Stem Cell Agency?

Two California stem cell bloggers, one a UC Davis researcher and another a veteran patient advocate, are hailing the appointment of a biotech industry veteran as the head of the $3 billion stem cell agency.

Scientist Paul Knoepfler, who also considers himself a patient advocate, said yesterday,
“Biotech leader (Randy) Mills (formerly of Osiris) serving as the new CIRM president ushers in a fundamentally new era for CIRM, and so it immediately kicks off CIRM 2.0.”

Knoepfler said that CIRM was originally all about pluripotent stem cells but that has changed.
“The notion of a leader with a primarily for-profit mesenchymal stem cell-centered focus at the helm of CIRM would have seemed impossible even just a few years ago. However, a tidal shift just happened. Okay, so it didn’t happen all at once overnight and observers of CIRM could see this trend begin a few years ago, but the appointment of Mills as the new CIRM prez crystallizes this change.”

Knoepfler continued,
“The CIRM of today and the future is primarily going to be about focused stem cell clinical product development (the main goal of Prop. 71) and raising capital to support that development beyond 2017.”

Patient advocate Don Reed, a longtime follower and supporter of the stem cell agency, said on the Daily Kos,
“My impression? Overwhelmingly positive.”

Reed noted that Mills “worked his way through college in the emergency room, so he has a strong sense of urgency for the work at hand. About himself, he stressed that he was 'patient centered... We are going to work relentlessly for the benefit of the patients and the people of the state of California.'”

Last year, Knoepfler posted a four-part series on mesenchymal stem cells, the stuff Mills developed as CEO of Osiris. The series was based on an interview with Arnold Caplan of Case Western University, the father of mesenchymal stem cells. The four items deal with the science but also touch on FDA regulation and medical tourism. The series begins here.

In Knoepfler's book, "Stem Cells: An Insider's Guide," he said Caplan coined the name mesenchymal stem cells(MSC). Knoepfler said in the book,
"MSCs can be isolated from fat, bone marrow, or placenta. MSCs are the hottest type of adult stem cell today with 306 clinical trials."
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