Thursday, January 12, 2006

California Pushing Ahead with Cloning ESC

From San Diego, where stem cells meet the surf(see "Science of Surfing"), comes a couple of stories dealing with the California stem cell agency and some of the California fallout from the Korean scandal.

Reporter Terri Somers of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote in some detail about the plans of California scientists to jump into the field of cloning human embryonic stem cells. It was that effort in Korea that turned out to be frauduent.

But scientists in California aren't giving up, and they hope to secure funds from the California stem cell agency to pursue their work.

Somers wrote:

"My guess is that just about everyone who has a stem cell research center is going to jump into this," said Jeanne Loring, a stem cell researcher at the Burnham Institute in La Jolla.

"All of the California research institutes stressed that in moving forward, they will follow the latest and strictest ethical guidelines to avoid the lapses uncovered in South Korea."

Also weighing in from San Diego was Richard Murphy, president of the Salk Institute and a member of the Oversight Committee for CIRM. His op-ed piece in the San Diego paper was a reprise of CIRM one year later. He said:

"I am often asked when California's stem cell research is going to get off the ground. The answer is, we don't know. At the moment, state-supported human embryonic stem cell research is at a standstill, tied up in the courts by research opponents who are arguing that Proposition 71 is unconstitutional.

"But these opponents have not succeeded in preventing CIRM's employees from creating an impressive state-supported stem cell institute that is ready to spring into action once the monies flow. Government agencies are often targets for criticism, but Californians are getting more than their money's worth from this one."

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