Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reporting on CIRM as fantasyland?

Further to the discussion of some reporting about Proposition 71 stem cell work being in fantasyland, one notes text in a commentary by Trounson and Murphy titled CIRM's stance after pluripotency

As a result of Proposition 71, some of the best stem cell scientists (including James Thomson, Shinya Yamanaka and Martin Pera) have been drawn either part time or permanently to leading research institutions in California. This is a natural process facilitated by the strong community support behind Proposition 71 and by the agreement of otherwise competing academic institutions to forge close alliances so as to achieve critical mass and raise additional funding. Both should be a model for other states and countries.

One will not find in the commentary any assertion that Shinya Yamanaka ACCEPTED a grant from CIRM. One will not find anywhere in the commentary a discussion of intellectual property. The commentary uses the word "intellectual" only once:

The force of the state's intellectual energy was demonstrated by the passing of Proposition 71 despite the obstacles of US federal opposition, a state budget deficit, strongly articulated and negative conservative views, and interest groups with alternative agendas such as research limited to adult stem cells.

Did the US federal government oppose California's effort in state funding? Were the views of opponents to Proposition 71 strongly articulated [the Proposition 71 proponents HUGELY outspent opponents]?

Returning to the Yamanaka matter. Californiastemcellreport had falsely reported: Yamanaka accepted a state grant in August 2007 ... [IPBiz: Yamanaka did not accept a CIRM grant in August 2007, and Yamanaka was wooed to California by Gladstone with $1.5 million from Whittier.]

Yamanaka does make patent applications, including US published application 20060292620, assigned to Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co., Ltd.

Patents in the "state of the union" speech

Indirect benefits to scientists from CIRM: direct hosing of California taxpayers?

Spinning in action: Yamanaka funding and CIRM

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

IPBiz notes that CIRM, californiastemreport, and others promoting Proposition 71 have had to tread lightly around CIRM's role after the Yamanaka/Thomson papers disclosed in November 2007. CIRM has all that money but "how to use it"? The Trounson/Murphy commentary was begun on a defensive note:

"Isn't the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) out of business now that the Yamanaka and Thomson papers show human fibroblasts can be induced to pluripotency?" This was the most common question we heard from reporters after the publication last December of these two breakthrough papers. The questions implied that the availability of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells erases the need for CIRM-supported research on human embryonic stem (ES) cells.

No large entity wants to be determined to be irrelevant, especially one with a lot of [taxpayer] money. One false variant seems to include defining Yamanaka as a CIRM grant recipient ("he's one of us") or as drawn to California by Proposition 71 ("we're the mecca.") The latter, but not the former, might have a ring of truth, but not necessarily in a good way for California taxpayers. Researchers will benefit INDIRECTLY from California funds, while directly obtaining their own patents. Sort of like Wisconsin researchers getting some assistance from California. Oooops, that already happened.


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