The “California Institute for Regenerative Medicine”(CIRM), the $3 Billion drive to support embryonic stem cells and cloning that the California voters were duped into voting into place under “Proposition 71,” has published its proposed strategic plan (available as a pdf here).
The Mercury News (San Francisco Bay Area, California) reports that the draft plan cautions that no cures will be available for 10 years. One leader believes that it’s closer to 15 years.
But the plan — which must be approved by the institute’s board — cautions that stem cell science remains in its infancy and that much of the agency’s time, energy and money will be consumed trying to understand the cells’ basic biology. Consequently, the plan concludes, the institute will still be doing early-stage studies on potential treatments by the time its money runs out in about 10 years.
Zach Hall, the institute’s president, said he and others who developed the plan were extremely careful about wording it so it set obtainable goals that didn’t unrealistically raise the public’s hopes.
“One of the points really is to try to educate people about what a long process it is to get any `therapeutic’ approved,” said Hall, who predicted it might take 15 years before the institute’s research results in a medical product.
Given the political sensitivity surrounding human embryonic stem cells, which are the institute’s main focus, he added, it is essential that the agency avoids rushing to commercialize a treatment that later turns out to be unsafe.
“That would set the whole field back,” he said.(emphasis mine
Please note that the Institute’s president is more concerned about the field of research than about harm to patients.
The story mentions three studies on “the feasibility” of beginning trials in humans. One study uses fetal stem cells from aborted infants and all three studies have parallel research in adult stem cell therapy that is already ongoing, two of them are being used, today, in human subjects.