Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stem Cell Board Nixes $13.4 Million to Help Cure Cartilage Disorders

Directors of the California stem cell agency today rejected a $13.4 million proposal that would have been the first disease team research that it has backed that would deal with cartilage disorders.

The project would have built on earlier research funded by CIRM. The agency staff cited work at UC Davis  by Kyriacos Athanasiou and at Scripps by Peter Schultz. Funding of the application was supported by the CIRM staff, which did not identify the applicant.

However,  the governing board, however, went along, on a 10-1 vote, with arguments by Director Jeff Sheehy and others that the agency had finite resources and had to make difficult decisions. He noted that many alternative treatments exist for cartilage problems. Sheehy said,
"We are here to make progress on serious diseases and conditions."  
Former Chairman Robert Klein, in an unusual appearance as a member of the public, urged approval of the grant. He said that it would address conditions "very prevalent in the older population."  Klein told the board that the research would be a "very important milestone that will help you get more money in the future."

While Klein did not mention it, older persons participate in elections to a much greater degree than younger persons. They would be an important group in winning support for another bond issue to fund CIRM, which runs out of cash for new grants in 2017.

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