Sunday, September 16, 2007

Trounson named prez of CIRM; what you won't read at californiastemcellreport

Concerning the naming of Alan Trounson as president of California's CIRM, californiastemcellreport has several posts, including one with text from FTCR's Simpson:

Alan Trounson is one of the scientists we sought to support our challenge of the the human embryonic stem cell patents held by WARF. He in fact filed a statement to the PTO on our behalf. He agrees with our view that the work done by Jamie Thomson was important and laudable, but not patentable because it was "obvious" to those in the field based on prior research.

IPBiz notes that Jeanne Loring, another scientist who assisted Simpson and FTCR, had once said:

"The real discovery of embryonic stem cells was by Martin Evans, Matt Kaufman, and Gail Martin in 1981, and none of these scientists considered patenting them. It is outrageous that WARF claimed credit for this landmark discovery nearly 15 years after it was made."

IPBiz notes that the "rub" may be found in text at patent docs:

Like Dr. Loring, Dr. Trounson also has a number (five) of published U.S. patent applications directed to stem cells, including U.S. Publication No. 2002/0160509 reciting the following claim:

Claim 1. A purified preparation of human undifferentiated embryonic stem cells capable of proliferation in vitro.

The relative overbreadth of this claim, compared with Dr. Thomson's claims in re-examination, make it hard to give credence to Dr. Trounson's testimony. This is particularly true since Dr. Trounson (at right) was required to supply a declaration/power of attorney in his U.S. application attesting to the fact that he was an inventor of this claim. If the art available when Dr. Thomson filed his earliest application rendered human embryonic stem cells obvious, the question arises as to whether Dr Trounson was mistaken when he signed his application declaration or when he signed the declaration submitted in the Thomson patent re-examinations.

IPBiz notes that the response of WARF to the various declarations filed by FTCR could leave Dr. Trounson in an ethical no-man's land, wherein Trounson has taken inconsistent positions between his own patent applications and his declaration on behalf of FTCR.

A >separate post on californiastemcellreport includes the text:

Embryonic Stem Cells International (ESI) Pte ( )

- Founded by Trounson and Drs Pera, Reubinoff, Bongso in 2000 to support our research in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Commercial rights and IP to the initial 6 ESC lines developed by the founders were transferred to ESI. These ESCs are part of the “NIH recognised” cell lines and were the subject of the change in ESC support by NIH when Trounson and colleagues applied for NIH funding under President Clinton’s administration. The initial investment was obtained equally from Business Angels associates from the Melbourne community and the Economic Development Board of Singapore. The company was registered in Singapore. Carl Strachan (Melbourne) chaired the Board and the foundation CEO was Robert Klupacs (previously Commercial Manager of Institute Reproduction and Development under Trounson’s directorship}. The company provided the initial financial support for

Trounson and Pera at Monash, Reubinoff at Hadassa Medical Center, Jerusalem and Bongso at National University of Singapore. The company focused their commercial interests under Alan Coleman (CEO) for ESCs and diabetes (funding Drs Elefanty and Stanley in Trounson’s Centre) and ESCs and cardiac therapy (funding Dr Christine Mummery, Utrecht, Holland).
Trounson and his wife exited all shareholdings in ESI Pte in 2002 to avoid conflict of interest of management with the award of the National Stem Cell Center.

The californiastemcellreport NEGLECTS to mention that ESI departed the embryonic stem business, as discussed in the journal Science (317 Science 305) and within IPBiz
(More on the ESI retreat from embryonic stem cell research ) and (Singapore's ESI halting work on human embryonic stem cell therapies.
Science had text: Alan Trounson, a Monash University stem cell scientist says he is "profoundly disappointed."

Trounson once spoke of fraudster Hwang Woo Suk in the following way:

Well he's a very gentle man and he's a very affable character. He has a good, very good reputation in animal reproductive medicine, which includes animal cloning.

So I've known him for many years, and so I'm very surprised that these allegations have been made and apparently are true.

IPBiz notes that the allegations of fraud against Hwang were found to be true. More importantly, nearly two years after the fraud unraveled stem cell scientists have not achieved what Hwang asserted in his first paper in Science, much less his second paper, in the area of SCNT. Third party observers to embryonic stem cell research should pay greatest attention to the fact that Hwang's scientific peers were completely out of touch with the reality of what can, and can't be done, in embryonic stem cell research. Ironically, the Trounson-founded ESI company seems to have gotten the drift, even if the folks at CIRM have not.

The Los Angeles Times has an article which includes the text:

Trounson is a pioneer of in vitro fertilization [IVF] and was the first scientist to figure out how to freeze excess embryos for future pregnancy attempts. He's also a sheep farmer who has cloned cows and wombats.

In 1998, he was part of a team of scientists from Singapore and Australia racing to be the first to remove stem cells from days-old human embryos and grow them in a lab. Although they succeeded at producing two human cell lines, University of Wisconsin biologist James Thomson got there first, publishing his findings that November as Trounson's team was writing theirs.

See also


Jesse Reynolds of BiopoliticalTimes has a post CIRM's New President: The Good and the Bad which includes the text:

As an advocate, Trounson got himself into hot water five years ago by misrepresenting the progress of embryonic stem cell research before the Australian Parliament. He showed MPs a video of a paralyzed rat that regained mobility after an injection of what he claimed were human embryonic stem cells. In fact, it had been treated with germ cells taken from a human embryo after 5 to 9 weeks of development. This caught the attention of the Prime Minister, who called Trounson's statements "very untidy" and ordered a review of a US$ 24 million grant.

Of all his public activities, I find Trounson's position on cloning-based stem cell research to the most interesting. He has repeatedly made skeptical statements (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) on the potential for the theoretical technique to produce cures, regularly citing its inefficiency and impracticality, particularly the need for many human eggs. Trounson has even called it "a non-event."


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