Tuesday, July 14, 2015

'Brutal Facts,' Parkinson's and the California Stem Cell Agency

Randy Mills in San Diego, Union-Tribune photo by K.C. Alfred
The $3 billion California stem cell agency took its strategic-plan road show to San Diego yesterday and heard impassioned pitches for development of a Parkinson’s therapy.

Reporter Bradley Fikes of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote that “sometimes emotional” exchanges arose at the meeting.  And he reported that the agency’s president, Randy Mills, said one of the “brutal facts” is that that “drug and medical companies aren’t really interested in stem cell treatments.”

The hearing was one of three this week to gather information to help reshape the agency’s plan for spending its last $800 million over the next five years. The other hearings will be in Los Angeles today at noon and in San Francisco tomorrow at noon. (See here for addresses.)

At yesterday’s session, Fikes quoted Mills as saying,
"We do not have enough industry pull for our technology….We don't have enough buyers for our intellectual property."
The article continued,
“Stem cell therapies are still considered too risky by most companies, Mills said.”
 About 70 persons attended the meeting, according to Fikes. That is about 10 times the size of the audience at most meetings of the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine or CIRM, as the San Francisco agency is formally known.

Many in the audience were there to pitch for Parkinson’s. Fikes wrote,
“Patient advocate Sherrie Gould asked Mills to support funding a potential Parkinsons' disease therapy being developed by a coalition of scientists, doctors and Parkinson's patients called Summit4StemCell. Dozens of coalition supporters attended the meeting.
“The group seeks to grow replacement brain cells to relieve symptoms of the movement disorder, derived from the patient's own skin cells. It's affiliated with the Parkinson's Association of San Diego.”
Fikes continued,
David Higgins, Linked In photo
“We are ready, the patients are ready, the cells are ready,’ Gould said. ‘Time is running out for these patients.’" 
The 29-member CIRM board has a Parkinson’s patient advocate as a member, David Higgins of San Diego, who is a former president of the Parkinson’s Association, according to CIRM.

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