California voters who strongly backed a measure some years ago to put their tax money into stem cell research – at a time work with embryo-derived cells was off limits to federal dollars – may soon learn if it was worth it. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine revealed $230 million+ in grants for research – previous outlays have been largely for setting up facilities. In something of an irony, little of it is going to the reason the institute exists – to work with human embryonic stem cells. The greater irony is, of course, that the ukase against US tax dollars for nearly all embryo-related research has evaporated with the change of administrations. The grants are coordinated with other agencies in Canada and the UK.
Clinical payoffs are a high priority, it appears. While human trials cannot be scheduled before results are in – much less before work even starts – the granting institute is requiring that the protocols be structured to permit human trials to start in four years or so.
New York Times‘s Andrew Pollack puts that aspect front and center, calling it a “tacit acknowledgment that the promise of human embryonic stem cells is still far in the future.” Only four of the 14 funded projects involve such cells.
By contrast, the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Erin Allday dives first into the wide variety of research avenues the grantees will pursue. It takes her until the seventh graf to tell readers that little of the money will go into the specific line of study that gave rise to the institute in the first place. She does report that even after “years of study and under a new administration, funding for all kinds of stem cell research is difficult to secure.”
With a Canadian institute also involved, the Canadian Press highlighted two projects in Toronto.
- San Diego Union Tribune – Thomas Kupper: S.D. researchers awarded stem cell funds ;
- Contra Costa Times – Susan Abram: Valley doctors among those receiving funding for stem cell research ;
- Bloomberg – Rob Waters: Stem Cell therapies Aimed at Patient Trials Get $230 Million ;
Grist for the Mill: CIRM Press Release ;
– Charlie Petit