Friday, August 18, 2006

On " Calling the Tune on ESC Research: Therapies or Tools?"

The californiastemcellreport.blogspot has a post titled " Calling the Tune on ESC Research: Therapies or Tools?" which reviews an article by Nicholas Wade in the NYT on August 14 which discussed the split between those who want to see development of stem cell therapies versus those who see embryonic stem cells as a research tool to study mechanisms of disease.

The blog notes That discussion has rumbled through CIRM for most of its existence and IPBiz has noted the different options, not in the context of CIRM, but in the general context that many researchers think the genetic profiling utilization is more likely to gain results in the short term.

The blog quotes Wade quoting Thomas M. Jessel: "'Many of us feel that for the next few years the most rational way forward is not to try to push cell therapies,' Dr. Jessell said. Scientists have spent the last five years mostly in learning how to grow human embryonic stem cells in the laboratory and how to make them differentiate, meaning to turn into the body’s various types of mature cells.'"

IPBiz ponders: how does that quote impact the PubPat/FTCR challenge to WARF's Thomson patents? PubPat asserts that once scientists had a recipe for growing MOUSE stem cells, growing human stem cells was OBVIOUS. Do scientists spend five years working on the OBVIOUS?

The blog noted: While scientists have preferences on the direction of stem cell research, no research is done without funding. Given the amount of money that CIRM can bring to bear on the subject (10 times the annual spending of the NIH on ESC research), the views of scientists oriented towards use of ESCs as research tools may not be the key factor in determining the main direction of new stem cell research in the United States.

IPBiz notes: The probability of getting royalties in the next ten years is far higher from patents of the research tool type than it is from patents of the human treatment type. It is a question of what objectives CIRM has.

IPBiz got a chuckle from the text in the blog: As the California stem cell agency wrestles with how to give away $3 billion – otherwise known as strategic planning – along comes a related article in the nation's most prestigious newspaper, the New York Times.

On August 17, the Times wrote that human stem cells were being obtained in Singapore through harvesting of blastocysts obtained through cloning of human embryos. Undoubtedly news to the rest of the world who are laboring under the perception that Hwang Woo Suk's work on SCNT cloning of hESC was a fraud.


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