Friday, October 17, 2008

Science and Construction Dominate CIRM Newspaper Series

California reporter Sandy Kleffman has pulled together a lengthy overview of the state's $3 billion stem cell research effort, focusing primarily on the science of the research and the building of stem cell laboratories.

The two-part series began Sunday in some newspapers in the San Francisco area. Kleffman reported that therapies are 10 years away and "numerous hurdles must be overcome." Despite the hurdles, Kleffman reported that "optimism remains."

She wrote:
"'I would say this is the most exciting time to be in science, ever,' said Dr. Arnold Kriegstein, director of the UC San Francisco Institute for Regeneration Medicine.

"'I don't think there's ever been as many opportunities to actually alter the course of a disease as there is right now.'"
Kleffman also wrote,
"Others fear the new therapies will be too expensive for many Californians.

"Money may be one of the biggest hurdles. The $3 billion taxpayer investment will not be nearly enough to take most therapies through the required trials and bring them to market.

"'The drug industry computes that it needs $1 billion for every new drug,' said Alan Trounson, president of the state stem cell agency, known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. "If that's the case, we're going to be handicapped severely here.'

"For that reason, Trounson and other stem cell leaders have begun to look at partnering with the biotech industry to ensure the work continues beyond the limits of the state program."
The series was written before the release of the latest, CIRM-financed, economic impact report on its activities. Kleffman's stories also did not deal with the bulk of the public policy issues surrounding CIRM.

Her work was keyed to the fourth anniversary of the agency, which came into being November 2004. The media have a fondness for anniversary pieces since they provide an easy entry point to a story. However, given the short staffing at newspapers today and the host of more compelling issues this fall, don't look for many more anniversary pieces on CIRM this fall. Next year is another story. Sphere: Related Content

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