Some critics impatient over slow stem-cell research payoff

California’s historic Proposition 71 provided big money for stem-cell research after voters approved it eight years ago. The measure helped fund major advances, but some charge that the success has been hampered by cronyism and conflict of interest.

Roman Reed has been a paraplegic for more than eighteen years. Ever since a college football injury injured his spine. Reed says he’s confident he will walk again.

“Stem cells are going to get me out of this chair. I will walk again one day because of stem cell research,” said Reed.

He campaigned hard for Prop 71 eight years ago. Voters believed stem cells might help find cures for paralysis, heart disease, diabetes and more.

The proposition won and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine or CIRM received $3 billion from taxpayers. The bond money was intended to find stem cell cures.

Some are starting to question whether they have found any.

“We do not have any cures, nor did we expect to have any cures within the time frame that we’ve funded so far,” said CIRM’s Chairman Jonathon Thomas.

They have spent $1.7 billion dollars to date. The money has been used to build a dozen new laboratories. It has also funded 1200 papers on 38 incurable diseases and lured 150 top scientists to California.

CIRM is backing seven clinical trials, but the FDA has not approved even one stem-cell therapy procedure. Six months ago, U.S. doctors got the green light to use a Canadian treatment for dying children.

Director of Stem Cell Program at UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures Jan Nolta believes it is a great advancement in medicine.

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Some critics impatient over slow stem-cell research payoff