Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Newsweek quoting Varmus on stem cells

Varmus bemoans the patchwork approach to stem cell research brought on by state funding. IPBiz agrees, perhaps for reasons different from those recited by Varmus. IPBiz worries about balkanization of patent rights. From Newsweek-->

Wake Up About Stem Cells

A patchwork approach may have unfortunate consequences.

Five years ago, President Bush allowed the federal government to
fund research on human embryonic stem cells, but he limited the work to cell
lines derived before his speech. The number of usable lines was never as
large as he indicated then, and it has dwindled since. Because scientists and the
public recognize the great potential of stem-cell research, various ways have
been sought to overcome the restrictions on federal support. For example,
several states, like California and New Jersey [IPBiz: NJ has NOT passed an initiative! Harold Varmus and Newsweek have it wrong.] , have passed initiatives to fund stem -cell research. And stem-cell scientists at certain institutions, notably in New York and Massachusetts, have been helped by philanthropy. In these ways, important stem-cell work is occurring in the United States, and we can compete with other countries with more supportive policies.

Our medical-research enterprise has benefited enormously from federal funding and oversight; ultimately, the new patchwork-quilt approach may have unfortunate
. Young scientists may be reluctant to enter the stem-cell
field, with its unpredictable state and federal policies. Furthermore, with
Congress under increasing strain to find money to support the National
Institutes of Health, state and private funding may be viewed as an alternative, not
just a supplement, to federal funding in other areas of medical research. This
could undermine the opportunities traditionally expected by scientists and
citizens in all the states of our nation.


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