No federally approved treatments have been produced

San Francisco Chronicle review of California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, approved by voters in 2004, reveals agency falling far short of promises

(Photo from BioEdge)

In 2004 California voted 59% to 41% for Proposition 71, an amendment to the state constitution which would create the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine through a US$3 billion bond issue. Interest added another $3 billion to the bill. Now the CIRM’s funding has nearly run out and its supporters plan to ask voters to authorize another $5 billion in funding in 2020.

The San Francisco Chronicle has reviewed the record of the CIRM’s research in a special feature. Without committing itself, the newspaper suggests that renewing the CIRM’s contract with voters might not be a good investment.

First of all: the promise. Back in 2004 supporters of Prop 71claimed that “Nearly half of all families in California could benefit from stem cell treatments Prop. 71 would help create. One study it commissioned found that new, life-changing therapies could emerge in just a few years. And Prop. 71 would pay off financially, the campaign claimed, creating thousands of jobs and potentially returning the state’s investment more than seven times over.”

Second: the reality. Californians were voting for quick cures, not training scientists, new research buildings or basic science. What happened is something different.

“No federally approved treatments have been produced. And without marketable therapies, the public is still far from reaping the up to $91 billion in health care savings by 2040 the campaign predicted.

“CIRM has funded nearly 50 clinical trials, but just four have been completed, meaning scientists enrolled all the patients they said they would and finished compiling data. One of those trials was an observational study that tested no new therapy. The others involved treatments that are still years, at best, from reaching the market.

“The state, once told to expect as much as $1.1 billion in royalties from CIRM-backed discoveries within 35 years, so far has received just a tiny fraction of that amount: a single payment of$190,000 from the City of Hope medical research center in Los Angeles County.”

In fact, soon after the campaign the CIRM issued a report which attempted to hose down the fires of hope about cures for dread diseases.

“The field of embryonic stem cell research was still young, the report warned. The road to marketing new therapies would be long and expensive. Most research never reaches human clinical trials, it explained, and most of those trials fail. Potential treatments for just a handful of diseases might be tested, and it was doubtful that a single approved therapy would be developed from the state’s investment.”

Full story at Bioedge.com.

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Comments

  1. California is the land of failure and stupidity. If Big Tech weren’t there by happenstance, the state would have collapsed by now. A handful of giant tech companies are the only things keeping California afloat economically and politically. But that will end.

  2. The “bullet train” is another California boondoggle that will cost taxpayers billions for which they will get nothing. Why do Californians vote for such dumb wastes of money? Politicians only use such public projects to line the pockets of their friends.

  3. This money could have gone into research in ethical stem cell treatments that do work, such as adult stems cell from people’s own bodies or family members and cord blood cells. What a waste of our hard earned dollars this was. Remember nothing is free! We pay for it with higher taxes or higher prices.

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