Stem Cell Agency To Vote on 10-Year Plan
The governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine on Thursday is expected to approve a 10-year plan that includes a timeline for treatment development and guidelines for marketing therapies, the Sacramento Bee reports (Downing, Sacramento Bee, 12/7).
CIRM was created in 2004 when California voters approved Proposition 71. The measure provides $3 billion over 10 years for stem cell research (California Healthline, 12/4).
The plan will outline how profit from stem cell discoveries developed with public funding will be divided among the state, research institutions and private companies.
The plan also provides guidelines for companies that will market a treatment. Products must be affordable to California residents, including the uninsured (Sacramento Bee, 12/7).
The institute's primary goal is to establish that a therapy developed from human embryonic stem cells can "restore function for at least one disease." It plans to discover treatments for two to four more diseases in developmental stages within the next 10 years (California Healthline, 12/4).
CIRM has the largest source of embryonic stem cell research funds in the country, and grant proposals awarded by its oversight committee early next year "could determine the trajectory of this budding scientific field," a Bee editorial states. Therefore, it is essential that the proposals are reviewed with "complete integrity" and avoid conflicts of interest, according to the editorial.
CIRM policy does not require committee reviewers to publicly disclose conflicts of interest, such as relationships with companies that could benefit from research by grant recipients, according to the editorial. Because of the amount of public funds involved with the grants, it is "baffling why the institute can't be completely transparent" and disclose any conflicts to the public, the editorial states (Sacramento Bee, 12/6).