Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Who is funding what in embryonic stem cell research?

The californiastemcellreport discusses a CIRM document "Overview on the Current State of the Development of New Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines," which purports to give annual funding levels in embryonic stem cell research:

China appears to have the largest annual program with a total as high as $249 million with the United Kingdom following at about $193 million, although it is not clear that all of the UK funding is available. Likewise, China's spending may be less.

Australia comes in at about $47 million, Singapore at $25 million, Korea at $18 million, Canada at $17 million, Israel at $7 million, Sweden at $2.2 million and India at $1.9 million. You may think some of these numbers seem strange. So do we, for a variety of reasons.

The californiastemcellreport questions the Singapore number.

IPBiz notes that the June 4, 2006 issue of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote:

Partly, Singapore has been able to attract top talent by building
world-class laboratories and creating a research-friendly environment. Last year,
the government announced that it will spend $7.5 billion on biomedical
sciences over the next five years, up from nearly $4 billion it spent between 2000
and 2005.

The Atlanta article also noted:

The clearest example of the difficulties facing scientists in the
United States is wrangling over the use of stem cells. In 2001, President Bush
limited federally financed research to existing stem cell lines because of
opposition to the work, which requires destroying newly formed embryos.

Singapore has adopted guidelines similar to those used in the United
Kingdom, which offer "a lot more flexibility . . . in terms of what can be
done," Taiwan-born Jackie Ying said.

The text of the CIRM document mentioned by californiastemcellreport did not mention embryonic stem cell research efforts in Spain.

The californiastemcellreport also quotes John Simpson on WARF's patents:

"Patenting embryonic stem cells because you have a method to isolate them is like patenting chickens because you have a new method to provide chickenfeed. Or, like patenting food because you can cook. Nonetheless, WARF claims and has, at least for now, been granted the rights to all human embryonic stem cells in the United States. The patents' dubious validity is underscored by the fact that no other country in the world recognizes these claims."

One notes that Simpson is not a patent attorney.


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