Friday, February 01, 2008

Stem cell research: disservice in the eye of the beholder?

As CIRM, Reed, and californiastemcellreport comment on the "disservice" of Bush's remarks in the "state of the union" speech, I noticed a piece on HomeSharing in my very local newspaper "The Somerset Reporter." In these tough economic times, HomeSharing matches people who can't maintain their home with people who have no home at all to form a sharing partnership. Tough financial times for New Jersey were part of the reason that the stem cell bond issue lost bigtime in November 2007. Further, voters just didn't believe the promises of a quick payout on the bond investment from patent royalties, promises brought forward not only in New Jersey but also earlier in California. They saw this stuff as fantasy. There are tough times in California, too. Although Jerseyans talk about HomeSharing, the folks in California have their Repo Express. [IPBiz: CBS national news on 1/30 discussed bus tours in San Diego touring foreclosed properties. "Repo Express." ]

With no apology to James Carville, an observation for CIRM, Reed, and californiastemcellreport: It's the economy, stupid. [A report on 1 Feb 08 showed a loss of 17,000 payroll jobs in Jan. 08] But here is how californiastemcellreport discussed on Nov. 7 the New Jersey vote:

And it is not good news for those in California who find reassurance in the 59 percent voter approval of Proposition 71 in 2004, the measure that created the state's $3 billion stem cell program.

We have pointed out previously that stem cell research is not well understood by the public. Support for it is weak despite often rosy polls that seem to indicate it is a motherhood issue, at least in the eyes of some at CIRM. That is not the case, as shown in a poll by the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life. According to that survey, support dropped from 57 percent nationally two years ago to 51 percent in August this year. It also showed that 55 percent of the public had heard little or nothing about stem cell research.

The New Jersey vote signals that it is imperative for CIRM to move forward thoughtfully and effectively on its public education/PR plans and promptly fill the vacant position of chief communications officer.

The New Jersey vote showed the vulnerability of stem cell research in the political marketplace. Voters can be fickle. To forestall erosion of support in California, CIRM must move to shore up its weaknesses. Those include its penchant for closed doors and secrecy – all of which breed suspicion and provide a recipe for scandal.

See also

New Jersey voters reject bond measure on stem cell research on 6 Nov 07 which includes the text: The projections on patent royalties resulting from the research, made both here and in California, are utter fantasy, and now we have a vote wherein everyday taxpayers recognized the snake oil for what it was.

On California's CIRM: unwieldy dinosaur of times past?

In passing, one notes Proposition 71 in California was passed against a baseline that Hwang's human SCNT research was a reality. We now know that the true state of human SCNT research is years behind that (wrongly) perceived "reality."

Also note in Drug Discovery News:

There is also a bit of double-talk in concerns raised against WARF’s patent position, suggests Lawrence B. Ebert, a registered patent attorney in New Jersey who also maintains

“It is ironic for Washburn to complain that WARF is asserting its patent rights while, at the same time, CIRM will be seeking to obtain patent rights to enforce against others,” Ebert notes.

Not quite what LBE said, but both Washburn and Loring have manifested inconsistent positions, not discussed by californiastemcellreport.

See also
San Diego law firm forms group to undertake patent cases
(...)But the move does not signal a departure from the plaintiff firm's core practice because the new IP group is focused on enforcing the patent rights of inventors and universities against big corporations. (...) Despite Lerach's setback, however, his former firm has the sort of major financial resources needed to represent inventors on a contingency-fee basis and to fund litigation that might take years to reach a trial or settlement. “We can go eight years and pony up $30 million,” Robbins said.

Please note that the IPBiz post relating to Don C. Reed has been updated to include an (apparently) misleading 31 Jan 08 entry on californiastemcellreport about
Professor Yamanaka.

As a bit of trivia, the normal (to us) woman in the Twilight Zone episode "Eye of the Beholder" was played by Donna Douglas, later to become Elly May in the Beverly Hillbillies.

See also A Distortion and a “Disservice”?: Stem Cell Research and the Words of President Bush


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