Two takes on "cures in ten years"

Posted by Jesse Reynolds December 5, 2006
Biopolitical Times
Richard Codey
Two articles from the weekend highlight diminishing expectations for California's stem cell research program. Its governing board is meeting this week, and will approve a strategic plan that is in in sharp contrast to the exaggerated rhetoric of the Proposition 71 campaign that created the program.

Mary Engel at the LA Times writes:
Even with the $150-million state loan approved recently to kick-start work stalled by legal challenges, there are no breakthroughs in sight. Gone are the allusions to healing such afflictions as spinal cord injuries and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases that dominated the 2004 campaign for Proposition 71. In fact, scientists say, there is no guarantee of cures—certainly not any time soon—from the measure that was optimistically titled the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act.

Set for final approval at UC Irvine this week, the draft plan is clear: "It is unlikely that [the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine] will be able to fully develop stem cell therapy for routine clinical use during the 10 years of the plan."
And Associated Press's Paul Elias says:
[D]on't expect those promised cures anytime soon. The research is in such a nascent stage that even fundamental questions such as what defines a human embryonic stem cell remain unanswered.

When the committee that runs the center meets to adopt a 10-year scientific plan Thursday it is expected to acknowledge that routine, widespread stem-cell treatments are unlikely to arise within a decade.

The most ambitious goal of the center's 150-page plan is to move the research out of the laboratory and into preliminary tests on people within 10 years.
CodeyBut the reality of the science's slow pace seems to have not yet reached the other coast. After two years of geographic wrangling and limited funding, New Jersey is about to approved half of a billion dollars for stem cell research. The effort was led by Senate President and former governor Richard Codey, who said:
As far as I'm concerned, the economics of it are great. What is really important is that hopefully, in 10 years, we can say New Jersey just announced a cure for diabetes or Parkinson's.
Unlike Proposition 71's advocates and the leadership of the new California program, Senator Cody is accountable to voters. He should read the reports from California, and tone down his rhetoric accordingly.