The Corner

Science & Tech

California Stem-Cell Agency Wants More Voter Money

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) was a multi-billion dollar money suck agreed to by California voters in 2004 as a way to “resist Bush” about embryonic stem-cell research (in the wake of the minor federal-funding restrictions he instituted).

The mendacious campaign promised Cures! Cures! Cures! with embryonic stem cells and therapeutic human cloning — even promising that disabled children would get out of their wheel chairs and walk. Good grief, campaigners also claimed that the money earned from all the coming cures would reduce California’s health-care budget.

Some $2 billion later, none of it came to pass. Tens of millions were spent on a fancy-dancy building. Conflicts of interested have abounded. But the supposed point of the CIRM was not achieved. There have been extremely few human trials with embryonic stem cells — mostly dealing with eye conditions — and not all were CIRM-funded.

The one CIRM study by Geron that sought to find cures for paralysis ultimately shut down. Geron gave up on the sector and sold all of its ESCR intellectual property. CIRM is still funding later studies by the company that picked up the portfolio. Yet, all these years later, there is still no published peer-reviewed evidence (the gold standard for objective science) that embryonic stem cells are effective for most maladies.

That could change, of course. But there is no question that the results have fallen woefully short of the hyped promises. In contrast, there are currently some 3,500 such NIH-approved adult-stem-cell studies ongoing. (See this Lozier Institute fact sheet for more information.)

Now, running out of authorized funding, the time has arrived for this special interest to convince Californians to again pony up to continue the CIRM. Toward achieving that end, a book has been released called (of course) California Cures! Please.

The Cures! Cures! Cures! campaign might not be the easy sell it was in 2004. The Golden State is becoming the “Feces State” as drug needles and human poop befoul the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco — cities that also suffer from out-of-control rent inflation amid homeless- encampment tent cities. The threat of communicable disease epidemics is growing and California ranks 50th among the states in quality-of-life measurements.

Under these circumstances, should voters — who often can’t afford rent — borrow billions more to fund “the scientists” and pay huge salaries to CIRM’s administrators?

It’s up to them, of course, but it seems to me this is a case of “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice . . .”


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