All posts by pat of butter in a sea of grits

California and stem cell research (xpost from dKos)

(The stem cell initiative has its flaws, but the far Right is holding this research hostage to its own moral agenda. – promoted by SFBrianCL)

**UTBriancl asked me to post this here as well.  Thanks Brian!**

The day after President Bush vetoed the federal stem cell bill, Governor Schwarzenegger authorized a loan of $150 million to California’s stem cell research funding agency, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

You might wonder why an agency that was authorized in 2004 via Proposition 71 to sell $3 billion worth of bonds (up to $350 million a year) is in need of a $150 million loan.

Unfortunately, CIRM hasn’t been able to sell any bonds, because their legality has been held up in court for a year and a half by lawsuits filed by a taxpayer’s group, People’s Advocate, and an anti-abortion group, the California Family Bioethics Council.  A new lawsuit filed in Sacramento a few weeks ago is attempting to thwart the agency’s grant funding to the University of California on the grounds that some of the CIRM grantees had ties to UC. 

However, even if those lawsuits are rejected, the money raised by CIRM will likely not be able to be as fruitful as it could have been.  Because of the federal bans, researchers will not be able to conduct stem cell research using equipment that was purchased with federal grants.  Existing laboratory space that is supported with federal dollars also can’t be used for stem cell research.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, “Robert Klein, chairman of the committee that is overseeing spending of the state funding, describes Bush’s decision as ‘tragic.’

“‘We could get greater leverage out of our $3 billion if we were able to use federally funded facilities currently in place,’ said Klein, who led the effort to pass a stem-cell funding initiative in 2004. “

Meanwhile, research with embryonic stem cells continues on various fronts.  An article that appeared in the June 29 issue of Nature identifies the potential promise of stem cell therapy for heart disease.  Researchers at the University of Washington are making progress in repairing damaged liver tissues using stem cells.  At Johns Hopkins, researchers have used stem cells to allow paralyzed mice to walk again.  Stem cell research at Stanford has identified the relationship of immune response to Alzheimer’s disease.  Nevertheless, Karl Rove told the Denver Post last week that researchers have found “far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells.” 

Progress will continue despite the veto, but it will make funding and conducting the research, even in California, significantly more difficult.