Sunday, October 26, 2014

California's Alpha Stem Cell Clinics Garner Little News Coverage

The California stem cell agency’s $34 million Alpha clinic venture last week received minimal attention from the mainstream media.

The effort was also was subordinated by the agency itself, which issued a press release that focused heavily instead on the plan by its new president, Randy Mills, to improve operations at the agency.

News stories, however, led with the action on the Alpha clinics. Articles appeared by Bradley Fikes in the San Diego U-T, Rebecca Kheel in the Orange County Register and in The Sacramento Bee by yours truly. John Schreiber of City News Service in Los Angeles also wrote a brief article that was picked up by smaller outlets.

The occasion was approval of the first stage of the Alpha clinic plan, which was originally budgeted for $70 million by former agency president Alan Trounson and the agency board.

Last Thursday, the agency’s board handed out three awards of $8 million each, trimming the applicants’ proposals by as much as 26 percent.  Next year, the agency is expected to add a $10 million information/data center to the Alpha effort. The center was cut from $15 million earlier this year.

The winners last week were the City of Hope, Duarte, Ca.; UC San Diego and UCLA/UC Irvine. The latter two issued press releases quickly (see here and here), but the City of Hope has still not issued one.

The press releases provided a few more details about the research, including the names of the principal investigators. At UC San Diego, it is Catriona Jamieson, deputy director of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center. For the UCLA/Irvine effort, it is John Adams, a member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center and professor in the department of orthopaedic surgery. Donald Kohn and Antoni Ribas are directing the two clinical trialsNormally the stem cell agency identifies the principal investigators in a press release following board action but did not do so in this case.

(An earlier version of this incorrectly said Kohn and Aribas were the principal investigators for UCLA-Irvine.)

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