Monday, March 26, 2007

LA Times on Cha - CIRM matter

Relevant to previous posts on IPBiz about CIRM granting money to an entity controlled by K.Y. Cha, Mary Engel of the LA Times wrote on March 26 an article entitled "Stem cell granted OKd for LA center linked to allegations."

The LA Times piece discussed one article authored by Cha which is now the subject of a plagiarism controversy. The LA Times did NOT discuss the associated patent problem, nor problems with a different article by K.Y. Cha in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine.

Leaving aside any issues with K.Y. Cha, the last sentence of the LA Times piece is of relevance to discussion about "cures from embryonic stem cell research." The last sentence says: "The CHA proposal would use a patient with Lou Gehrig's disease as a donor, thus creating a line of stem cells with the disease that could be used to study it and test treatments." In other words, the CHA proposal, if fully implemented, will yield a research tool TO TEST OTHER TREATMENTS. In itself, it is not a treatment and not a cure.

Those in the patent realm remember the case of the University of Rochester v. Searle. Rochester did develop a research tool of relevance to COX-2 inhibitors. It could TEST something to see if it was a COX-2 inhibitor. Rochester got a patent for a method of treatment using COX-2 inhibitors and immediately asserted the patent against a company, Searle, that actually had made a COX-2 inhibitor. Millions of dollars were spent in litigation. Rochester, of course, lost on summary judgment. In a final twist, it was learned that certain COX-2 inhibitors were dangerous to patients, and that this information had been known BEFORE one COX-2 inhibitor (VIOXX) went to market.

One commenter on IPBiz analogized work on embryonic stem cells to work on the internal combustion engine. The issue here is not the ability to do work on embryonic stem cells. The federal government does not bar work on embryonic stem cells. It limits federal grant money for work on embryonic stem cells. The internal combustion engine was developed without government support. In the case of the airplane, the Wrights developed three-dimensional control WITHOUT any government support, while a competitor (who failed miserably) received great assistance. In the present matter with Cha, CIRM should check to see whether those who are to receive state funds have connections to an entity who will profit from the research, whether those connections are past, present, or future.

[A complete post on the LA Times article on March 26, 2007 was completely lost by blogger. Blogger is behaving in an increasingly erratic manner.]


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