May 30, 2012
Re "Tobacco tax? Yes, but not this one," Column, May 27 In his article opposing Proposition 29, Michael Hiltzik makes a number of misleading statements about Proposition 71, the voter-approved measure funding stem-cell research. No ads for Proposition 71 promised miraculous cures. They promised good science, and that is what is being funded, with more than 62 promising therapies for 40 different diseases on their way to clinical trials. The stem-cell agency has conflict-of-interest rules as strict as any government agency.
January 21, 2012 |
What are the chances that the prestigious Institute of Medicine will get an objective and balanced view of California's stem-cell program when it takes public testimony about the program at a hearing Tuesday in San Francisco? About 418 million to one. That's the estimation of the California Stem Cell Report. The report's proprietor, David Jensen, toted up the value of the grants received from the program by Tuesday's witnesses or their employers. Total: $418 million.
December 7, 2011 |
For years, Geron Corp. had claimed to be in the vanguard among California companies engaged in stem cell research. So it was something of a stunner when it announced Nov. 14 that it was abandoning the stem cell field completely. Geron's shares fell 20% the next day, but that was probably nothing compared with how far spirits must have fallen at the California stem cell agency, which just a few months earlier had made its highest-profile investment ever by awarding Menlo Park-based Geron a $25-million loan to help fund the first human trial of stem cell-based spinal cord therapy.
November 21, 2011 |
For patients paralyzed by spinal cord injuries, Geron Corp.'s stem cell research was the shining hope. The biotech firm showered scientists with millions of dollars to develop a treatment to reverse spinal damage. The therapy was the first treatment derived from embryonic stem cells to be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for testing in humans. But last week, Geron abruptly pulled the plug on its pioneering trial and the rest of its stem cell business, including early work on treatments for heart ailments, diabetes and other diseases.
July 9, 2011 |
Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene left a Stockholm hospital Friday, breathing through a manufactured trachea that was built with his own stem cells. The 36-year-old Eritrean geology student at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik had suffered from an advanced case of tracheal cancer, and tumors were threatening to block his windpipe and choke off his supply of oxygen before the artificial trachea was implanted June 9. Dr. Paolo Macchiarini of Karolinska University Hospital decided there was no time to wait for a donor trachea, so he assembled a team to build one. Since the artificial trachea was made with Beyene's own cells, he hasn't needed anti-rejection drugs that would have suppressed his immune system and made him vulnerable to other infections.
July 8, 2011 |
Angina relief and an artificial windpipe. No doubt about it: Stem cells have had a big week. But any time stem cells show up in the news, there’s bound to be a lot of controversy and misunderstandings. Researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois published a study showing that stem cell injections into the heart can help reduce angina attacks , presumably by spurring the growth of new blood vessels feeding the heart. And Swedish doctors announced that they had given acancer patient a brand new windpipe grown in a lab using his own stem cells.
July 7, 2011
The new head of California's stem cell research agency, which has a staff of 50, not only makes more money than the governor, he makes twice as much as the chief of the National Institutes of Health, which has 17,000 employees. Does that make him overpaid? Not necessarily. But it does make the board that hired him remarkably tin-eared about politics. Times staff writer Jack Dolan reported Tuesday that Jonathan Thomas, picked as chairman of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in June, ranks high on the list of the state's highest-paid employees, taking home $400,000 a year.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 5, 2011 |
California's stem cell research agency says it needs billions more taxpayer dollars to deliver on promised cures to major diseases. Yet at a time when other departments are cutting back spending, the agency recently agreed to pay its new boss one of the highest salaries in state government. The 50-person grant-making body will pay a Los Angeles investment banker $400,000 to serve as its new part-time board chairman, pushing the combined salaries of its two top officials to nearly $1 million per year.
June 7, 2011 |
For a state agency that aims to define the term "visionary," the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine — the stem cell bureau, as it were — has always displayed a curious lack of vision about its own responsibilities. The taxpayer-funded institute was created by Proposition 71 in 2004 to find cures for diabetes, AIDS, Alzheimer's and a host of other conditions via stem cell research, using $3 billion in bond proceeds ($6 billion including interest). It goes without saying that it hasn't found those cures, though not for want of spending.
May 30, 2011 |
A pouch full of brand-new cells may one day reduce the need for people with Type 1 diabetes to take daily insulin shots. ViaCyte Inc. of San Diego has already used its technique to cure diabetes in hundreds of mice, says Eugene Brandon, one of the company's directors. ViaCyte hopes to begin human trials of its implants, which are made from embryonic stem cells, by 2013, aided by $26 million in grants and loans from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the state's stem cell funding agency.