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California Stem Cell Agency Moves to Dampen Expectations

Genetic Crossroads
October 20th, 2006

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state's $3 billion stem cell research program, has released its long-awaited draft strategic plan, including the agency's research priorities and projected expenditures.

The draft plan describes a long road to any possible treatments based on embryonic stem cell research—in sharp contrast to the exaggerated claims that were a hallmark of the 2004 initiative campaign.

The draft plan concludes:

[I]t is unlikely that CIRM will be able to fully develop stem cell therapy for routine clinical use during the ten years of the plan. Within that time span, however, we will be able to advance therapies for several diseases to early stage clinical trials, and to have therapies for other diseases in the pipeline.

Although it is a positive step for CIRM to use language this clear to temper public expectations, these expectations were raised in large part by the promotional campaign for the ballot measure that created the stem cell program. Unfortunately, similar irresponsible rhetoric is being repeated, most notably in the current debate over the proposed Missouri stem cell research constitutional amendment.


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