Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A response of sorts to Don C. Reed about covering both sides of CIRM

Don C. Reed made a comment to yesterday's IPBiz post on the "state of the union" speech of George Bush. The comment included:

But I must object strongly to your characterization of David Jensen's California Stem Cell Report as "Fantasyland".


But Jensen is a reporter, who makes a genuine and ongoing effort to present both sides accurately.

IPBiz had written on Jan. 29:

of the state of the union speech the [californiastemcellreport] noted:

The California stem cell agency is accusing President Bush of distorting facts and performing a disservice to millions of Americans who suffer from chronic diseases and injuries.

The agency said Bush intends to "further limit" research into human embryonic stem cells.

The CIRM statement is contained in a press release on its web site that concerned Bush's speech Tuesday night. Interestingly, the CIRM statement is not attributed to either Bob Klein, chairman of the agency, or its new president, Australian stem cell researcher Alan Trounson. In the past, statements such as this have been linked to either the president or chairman.

There is a post on stemcellbattles (by Mr. Reed) including the text:

Here is a news-release from CIRM (the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

Important: the CIRM has of course absolutely no connection with my politics. This is a press release, from the CIRM’s website, their response to the President’s remarks.

For release: IMMEDIATE Contact: Ellen Rose


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., January 28, 2008 –

The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) issued the following statement in response to President Bush’s State of the Union address:

Tonight, in his State of the Union address, President Bush distorted the scientific facts on stem cell research and did a disservice to the millions of patients suffering from chronic disease and injury for whom stem cell research holds great promise for future therapies and cures.

Stemcellbattles notes: Don C. Reed is co-chair of Californians for Cures, and writes for their web blog, Reed was citizen-sponsor for California’s Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999, named after his paralyzed son; he worked as a grassroots advocate for California’s Senator Deborah Ortiz’s three stem cell regulatory laws, served as an executive board member for Proposition 71, the California Stem Cells for Research and Cures Act, and is director of policy outreach for Americans for Cures. The retired schoolteacher is the author of five books and thirty magazine articles, and has received the National Press Award.


Of the point about --disservice to the millions of patients suffering from chronic disease and injury for whom stem cell research holds great promise for future therapies and cures--, one might look to a January 19 IPBiz post quoting Dr. Yamanaka on his iPS work:

Last week, Yamanaka told reporters in Tokyo that aspects of the iPS discovery - though not stem cell therapy, which might be a decade away from clinical application, even if the research continues going well - have reached another breakthrough point.

IPBiz notes that iPS is further along in development than the human SCNT work of the Hwang-type that CIRM was trying to fund, for example, in its grant (now withdrawn) to the Cha entity. One asks: great promise for "when" in the future? Sooner than Jules Verne's Nautilus, but likely not within 10 years? One suspects that the rejection by the voters of the state of New Jersey of the stem cell bond issue last November was caused in part by these concerns. There are probably also concerns about money going to scientific empire building rather than to the pursuit therapeutic cures. How much disservice has been done as to promises that might be a long time in realization?


IPBiz sadly must take issue with Reed's --a genuine and ongoing effort to present both sides accurately--. Californiastemcellreport has not presented both sides of the intellectual property issues, including those pertaining to the WARF / Thomson patents. There have been a number of IPBiz posts, including but not limited to:

What californiastemcellreport isn't talking about [Of this 2006 post, note the supposed
"breakthrough" went nowhere AND was irrelevant to weakening WARF's (supposed) lock on research]

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

The Scientist talks about latest in Cha v. Flamm saga


Within a 31 Jan 08 post on californiastemcellreport titled 'California Has Changed Everything', one finds californiastemcellreport quoting Christine Vestal at in the following way:

"Now that grant money is flowing, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) reports it has wooed more than two dozen of the world’s top stem-cell scientists, including Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka, who lead the most recent skin-cell discoveries at the University of Kyoto. Yamanaka accepted a state grant in August 2007 and began working part-time in San Francisco to avoid stem-cell restrictions in Japan."

In a press release of 16 Aug 07, the Gladstone Institute made no mention of a grant from CIRM and stated:

Acclaimed Japanese stem cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD has joined the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease (GICD), where he will continue his research into reprogramming adult cells into embryonic stem (ES) cells. Dr. Yamanaka is the L.K. Whittier Foundation Investigator in Stem Cell Biology at Gladstone. He will also be a professor of anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco.

Gladstone will provide Shinya with the resources and facilities to apply his research to human cells,” said Deepak Srivastava, MD, GICD director. “Furthermore, we will have the great benefit of his unique knowledge and experience to advance the stem cell capability we’ve been building.”

Further, in a post on 1 Sept 07 , IPBiz noted explicitly that Gladstone was not getting Yamanaka involved in CIRM funding:

Deepak Srivastava, GICD's director, said in a press release that
“Gladstone will provide Shinya with the resources and facilities to
apply his research to human cells.” Yamanaka's work will not be funded by grants from Proposition 71 -- at least not inititally, according to Gladstone spokesperson Valerie Tucker -- allowing it to move forward without concern of whatever revenue-sharing agreement is finally reached.

Accord, WiredScience:Yamanaka's work will not be funded by grants from Proposition 71.

See also California's CIRM as a hanging curve ball

IPBiz wonders if Don C. Reed has anything to say. The comment icon is below.


When one has a blog directed to an agency, one runs the risk of the phenomenon of "regulatory capture." The blog's interests and the agency's interests become aligned, although certainly NOT fully aligned.

***IPBiz amplification: Of regulatory capture, wikipedia notes-->

Regulatory capture is a phenomenon in which a government regulatory agency which is supposed to be acting in the public interest becomes dominated by the vested interests of the existing incumbents in the industry that it oversees.

In public choice theory, regulatory capture arises from the fact that vested interests have a concentrated stake in the outcomes of political decisions, thus ensuring that they will find means - direct or indirect - to capture decision makers.

The concept is central in a branch of public choice that is often referred to as the "economics of regulation", which is critical of earlier conceptualizations . of regulatory intervention by governments as being motivated to protect public goodsTwo often cited articles are Laffont & Tirole (1991) and Levine & Forrence (1990).

IPBiz was trying to be humorous. In conventional "regulatory capture", the special interests capture the governmental agency, nominally presumed to be neutral in the absence of such capture. In the IPBiz comment, the government agency, here CIRM (dominated by special interest groups) has captured (in part) the blog, presumed to be neutral in the absence of such capture.

The comment on californiastemcellreport [Today he suggested the report was something of a tool of California's stem cell agency. ] should be viewed noting the above. Otherwise, one might presume that LBE didn't learn much in AdLaw from Cass Sunstein at the University of Chicago Law School. Separately, one person's dream might be viewed as another's fantasy. IPBiz is troubled by suggestions that human SCNT will lead to any therapeutic treatments on a time scale of ten years, which doesn't seem to have substantive scientific support. The suggestions made in California (and in New Jersey) that patent royalties arising from such (likely non-existent) treatments would generate significant state revenue is easily labeled a fantasy. In California, wherein Proposition 71 supporters dramatically outspent opponents, state money was allocated. In New Jersey, wherein supporters somewhat outspent opponents, the proposal for state money was rejected.
These days, we expect to hear more it's the economy, stupid. ***

Of the bond vote in New Jersey, see also


Blogger diverdonreed said...

My feeling is that the issues involved in stem cell research are so important that everyone's viewpoints are to be encouraged. The intellectual property situation in particular is so complicated-- we must have the involvement of corporations if we are to succeed in delivering cure, while at the same time we do not want to lock up all the rights to progress in any single corporate ownership-- so, from this advocate's perspective, we are all in this together. That is why I read IPBiz regularly, and also the California Stem Cell Report. I try to attend every meeting of the ICOC and committees, because this is a time when issues of enormous importance are being wrestled out--we need everyone's viewpoint-- and that means tensions will sometimes run high. So, I would hope we could all agree to disagree agreeably, if that makes any sense at all. In any event, keep up the study of the intellectual property issues; they are vital to the advance of the research we all support. Thanks, Don C. Reed

4:06 AM  

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