May 24, 2024

Speed bumps slow progress for stem cell institute

California’s new stem cell institute has hit speed bumps which are delaying commencement of its controversial research into embryonic stem cells and therapeutic cloning . The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was set up after voters endorsed a US$3 billion funding proposal. However, the initiative has come under fire not only from those who opposed it last year, but from legislators who claim that it is secretive and vulnerable to conflicts of interest. Two lawsuits challenging the legality of the sale of bonds have been lodged by taxpayer groups and opponents of embryonic stem-cell research.

Two state senators are also trying to apply brakes to the project. They have proposed a three-year moratorium on women donating eggs for research and a constitutional amendment to tighten CIRM’s conflict-of-interest rules, force its governing committee to hold its meetings in public and guarantee that CIRM’s products will be available to low-income Californians. As a result, the first grants will probably not be doled out until autumn, at best.