Calif. stem cell research discovers white elephant

May 4, 2012

By Wayne Lusvardi 

Now that stem cells have become obsolete, can California’s entrenched stem-cell research bureaucracy be phased out?  Or will it continue as a white elephant as the state’s budget deficit problems worsen? 

Last week it was announced that, for the first time, heart scar tissue resulting from a stroke had been changed back to normal muscle without using stem cells. This new method is called RNA reprogramming.  

Dr. Victor Dzau, a Duke University professor of medicine and chancellor of health affairs, said it this way: “Right now, there’s no good evidence stem cells can do the job” (of regenerating damaged cells).   And RNA reprogramming apparently regenerates tissues without the dangerous side effect of creating tumors as stem cells do

The new method developed at Duke uses a simpler way of regenerating cells than using stem cells.  It simply reprograms the RNA in the damaged cells of tissues back into normal cells.   This new method could potentially treat a variety of diseases, injuries and chronic conditions.  

RNA is an abbreviation for ribonucleic acid.  RNA acts as a messenger from the genes (DNA) in the nucleus of the cell to the ribosome, where proteins are refashioned for specific uses in the body.   Using RNA as a messenger to reprogram proteins is like updating the software in your computer.  

Stem cells are master cells that produce all the different cells in the human body.  It is harder to find out what a stem cell is and does or control it than it is for RNA.  

This newer RNA method of tissue regeneration has made stem cell research obsolete

Back in November 2011, the Geron Corporation announced it was pulling out of conducting any more stem cell research.  Geron had spent $150 million over 10 years with nothing to show for all its stem cell research.  Geron was the California-based company that the state’s Proposition 71 was especially designed to fund.   

Prop 71 as ‘Irrational Exuberance’  

In 2004 California voters approved Prop. 71 for $3 billion in stem cell research funding over 10 years.  Prop 71 was designed as an amendment to the state constitution to make it difficult to dismantle it.  The father of Prop. 71, Robert Klein, renamed it the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to give it a private sounding name.  Prop 71 was sold to the public during the “go-go” Real Estate Bubble, promising cures for cancer, heart disease, and paralysis.  

Shirley Tilghman, the president of Princeton University, warned back in November 2004 that stem cell research was a version of “irrational exuberance,” just as the subprime loan mania was. 

The start up of stem cell research was delayed due to lawsuits over the use of human embryos to harvest stem cells.  Soon after the stem cell institute was funded, it erected a large new stem-cell research facility at the University of California-San Francisco campus costing $123 million.  This signaled that the California stem-cell institute had become a permanent part of the state’s bureaucracy.  And with its new building came all the incurable bureaucratic pathologies of self-perpetuation. The California stem-cell institute has become like a stem cell with cancerous bureaucratic growth. 

State-Funded Stem Cell Research Is a Jobs Program 

The $300 million per year in public-funded stem cell research is a mere drop in the ocean of $78.9 billion in bio-med research funding in California in 2008.  State-funded stem-cell research reflects merely 0.4 percent of all bio-medical research in California.  State-funded stem cell research was not only minuscule, but also redundant — and thus unnecessary.  

California Gov. Jerry Brown has cut use of cell phones out for many state employees, saving about $41 million per year.  Why does he not call for voters to rescind Prop, 71 for $300 million of obsolete stem cell research a year?  Instead, Brown has called for cuts in welfare rather than in the provision of luxury public goods and programs such as stem cell research.  

The November 2012 election has a ballot initiative, Proposition 29, that proposes to add an extra $1 tax on each pack of cigarettes purportedly for medical research.  If passed, look for those funds to be diverted to perpetuate California’s stem-cell research bureaucracy funding.  

Science has made stem cell research mostly obsolete.  Will California keep up with science, or perpetuate a jobs program while health and welfare programs are cut?


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  1. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 4 May, 2012, 13:34

    They’ve turned the War on Cancer into the same scam as the War on Drugs. Those are code words for “Open up your wallets and support my livelihood. You owe it to me”. Just like with Prop 29 – a tax on the underclass smokers to prop up the medical industry who send sugar daddy money to the pols. Stealing from Peter to bail out Paul. I bet Jerry Lewis will be smirking on his death bed over all those years of profitable telethons for muscular dystrophy. I remember watching them when I was practically in diapers. I remember all the volunteers answering the ringing phones in the backgound with the big electronic moneyboard above showing hundreds of millions of dollars collected. Jerry was crying as he begged you to call in and donate. And you want to know how they treat MD these days? With physiotherapy, aerobic exercise, low intensity anabolic steroids, prednisone supplements may help to prevent contractures and maintain muscle tone. There is no specific treatment or cure. Same old crap they used in 1960. Come on, folks. Grow up. You are being conned by snake oil salesmen!

    Reply this comment
  2. Rogue Elephant
    Rogue Elephant 4 May, 2012, 13:54

    The only good science is that which can be used as a proxy for abortion.

    Reply this comment
  3. Rogue Elephant
    Rogue Elephant 4 May, 2012, 14:02

    On further reflection, Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal, except that we shouldn’t eat the surplus population. We should use them as raw materials for scientific experiments.

    Reply this comment
  4. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 4 May, 2012, 14:36

    You will never see them tack on $3 for a fifth of Johnny Walker Red to study alcoholism or cirhosis of the liver. And you won’t see them slap on $3 for a rib roast to study atherosclerosis or cancer from growth hormones injected into cattle. One reason is that they never plan to make meat or alcohol illegal (they tried that once before with booze, remember?). But tobacco is a different story. Eventually that could be another Class 1 narcotic money maker for the government. We could create another enemy. And there’s always loads of profit in that industry! 🙂 By that time the big cig companies will diversify their product lines and get big subsidies from Uncle Sugar to make up for any losses. It’s all good. And it’s all done to keep you safer! 😀

    Reply this comment
  5. queeg
    queeg 4 May, 2012, 15:09

    Babble anh hysteria…running of mouth disease.

    Move on….stem cells the bio solar money pit!

    Reply this comment
  6. Bob
    Bob 4 May, 2012, 15:27

    “Back in November 2011, the Geron Corporation announced it was pulling out of conducting any more stem cell research. Geron had spent $150 million over 10 years with nothing to show for all its stem cell research. Geron was the California-based company that the state’s Proposition 71 was especially designed to fund.”

    Figures. I voted against it and urged others to do the same. I told them if they thought this new institute (really just another bureaucracy) would cure anything they were naive and this was just another government ploy to separate them from their money. And so now I was proved right.

    So now stem cells have little to no use? Well, Brownie and the DemoNcrats will try to use them to build a bullet train. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  7. Bob
    Bob 4 May, 2012, 15:31

    After all, that institute has to do something so maybe it will join forces with the bullet trainers.

    Bullet trains to nowhere, stem cells to nowhere, DemoNcrats and their cronies to the bank with your money!

    Reply this comment
  8. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 4 May, 2012, 15:36

    I just read another tear-jerker column by some knucklehead reporter about kids who overdose on pain pills.

    You know what his solutions include?

    – Toughening FDA restrictions on legal prescription drugs like percocet, xanex, oxy, vicodin, etc…

    – Spend more taxdollars training 1st responders.

    – Free treatment for drug addicts.

    blah, blah, blah……..

    Listen, you can’t fix stupid. No matter how many laws you make or how much money you spend on it. Stupid will always win in the end. Always.

    Vicodin, percocet, xanex, oxy, etc….are invaluable LEGAL drugs for those who need them. So what are you going to do??? Make legitimate users get a note signed by the POTUS to pick up a script at Joe’s pharmacy? Grow up.

    If a kid sniffs glue to get high what are you going to do??? Make glue illegal forcing me to make my own at home with tree sap???

    These are purportedly educated and wise journalists writing this bunk. No wonder society is gettng flushed.

    Reply this comment
  9. Stanley K.
    Stanley K. 4 May, 2012, 17:29

    GREAT. California now “leads the nation” and is on the “cutting edge” of obsolescence.
    Have you had enough yet?

    Reply this comment
  10. Stanley K.
    Stanley K. 4 May, 2012, 17:36

    But this breakthrough of “RNA reprogramming” is wonderful news

    Reply this comment
  11. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 4 May, 2012, 23:30

    If PT Barnum came back to life tomorrow he would say that there’s a new sucker born every 30 seconds in America.

    Remember when cord blood banks were the hottest thing in America since sliced bread? That’s when at birth some doc saves the blood in the umbiblical cord and placenta that is rich in stem cells. The idea was to use the stem cells to correct genetic disease later on down the road. I had an acquaintance who cashed in on that circus. He had a couple sales people paid mainly on commission and contracted the services of a couple 6-year program docs. The charge was an initial $3k to save the stem cells in his cord blood bank and $100/mo service charge (rent) to maintain it. Nice income stream for doing practically zip. Now years later we find out that the stem cell craze was mainly a scam! heh. But it created a brand new industry and made lots of people some nice cash. I read somewhere that about 1 of 500 people who have their stems cells (cord blood) saved would ever need a stem cell transplant or whatever. heh. And sometimes it’s even contraindicated to use the stems cells in a variety of treatments since they contain the genetic material that carries the hereditary disease that can complicate matters. Oh well. If they can track down the guy who sold them the contract maybe they can ask for a refund. Buyer beware. You buy a pig in a poke and it’s yours! 😀

    Reply this comment
  12. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 8 May, 2012, 08:48

    Gentlemen: Please, no comments on the presidency or insults on each other. That’s not what this article was about. Stay on topic. I deleted all those posts.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  13. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 8 May, 2012, 09:04

    Thank you John– I appreciate that.

    Reply this comment
  14. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 8 May, 2012, 09:29

    JS – with the presidential elections right around the corner we are looking at an election that could literally break us as a sovereign entity. Quite possibly it is the most crucial election that we could face in our beloved Homeland and could devastate our way of life should Obama get reelected and become a lame duck enabling him to rip the fabric of our children’s future asunder. We need an outlet to vent. Could you please offer more blogs in this arena? You have offered blogs on national issues. Please give us room to express our beliefs.

    Also, please be aware that the crybabies who run to you and complain about others are oftentimes the very ones who go out of their way to make vitriolic and caustic remarks that provoke a response. You are a smart guy and I know you understand this. My style is to never fire until I’m fired upon first. Please keep an eye on the provacateurs who specialize in goading other posters to enter into a fight.

    Thank you. CWD is a great blog site and one of the few where we can go to get mostly the truth. And I appreciate that from the bottom of my heart. Over and out.

    Reply this comment
  15. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 8 May, 2012, 21:53

    mmmmmmmmmmmmm……..but wouldn’t it be nice to stay on point Mr. Beezy? THIS post was about stem cells. Don’t fight it– embrace it!

    Reply this comment
  16. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 8 May, 2012, 22:17

    Teddy, up yours.

    Reply this comment
  17. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 8 May, 2012, 22:22

    Gosh– I don’t think that was a very useful comment.

    Reply this comment

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