First Official Trial Using Human Embryonic Stem Cells Halted

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First Official Trial Using Human Embryonic Stem Cells Halted

By LINDA A. JOHNSON AP Business Writer
TRENTON, N.J. November 15, 2011 (AP)

The company doing the first government-approved test of embryonic stem cell therapy is discontinuing further stem cell work, a move with stark implications for a field offering hope of future medicines for conditions with inadequate or no current treatments.

Geron Corp., a pioneer in stem cell research that has been testing a spinal cord injury treatment, said late Monday that it's halting development of its stem cell programs to conserve funds. It is seeking partners to take on the programs' assets and is laying off much of its staff.

The news sent Geron shares down sharply in after-hours trading. They fell 38 cents, or 17.3 percent, to $1.82.

The company is eliminating 66 full-time jobs, or 38 percent of its staff, a process that will bring about $8 million in costs — about $5 million in the current quarter and about $3 million in the first half of 2012. Geron said it expects to end this year with more than $150 million in cash and investments.

In a statement, the company said the decision to narrow its focus "was made after a strategic review of the costs, ... timelines and clinical, manufacturing and regulatory complexities associated with the company's research and clinical-stage assets."

The shift comes barely six weeks after the company's board appointed biotech industry veteran Dr. John A. Scarlett as Geron's new chief executive.

Geron said it is looking for partners who have the technical and financial resources to advance its stem cell programs.

Analyst Steve Brozak of WBB Securities said Geron has been trying to find partners "and people have said,'Show us later-stage results.'"

Since the recession began in 2008, venture capital funding for the biotech industry has greatly declined as many investors seek projects with quicker potential payoffs.

Embryonic stem cells can develop into any type of cell in the body. The hope is that one day they might be used to replace or repair damaged tissue from ailments such as heart disease, Parkinson's and stroke.

But using stem cells from embryos has long been controversial and is opposed by some groups for religious and moral reasons.

Brozak called Geron's move a sad delay in the development of embryonic stem cell therapies in the U.S.

"It could be outsourced to a place like China very easily," he added. "In that case, this would be the de facto abdication of U.S. leadership in biotechnology."

Scarlett said his company will keep a core group of employees from its stem cell operations through the end of 2012's second quarter.

"Stem cells continue to hold great medical promise," he said in a statement, adding that Geron is recognized as having "among the most innovative, comprehensive and advanced cell therapy programs in the world," which should help it in discussions to find partners to whom it can transfer the programs.

Geron in October 2010 began testing an embryonic stem cell therapy called GRNOPC1 in patients with recent spinal cord injuries. It will stop enrolling new patients but will continue to follow those currently participating.

The company will continue updating the Food and Drug Administration and doctors and scientists on the study's progress. So far, the treatment with oligodendrocyte progenitor cells — the OPC in the therapy's name — has been tolerated well without any serious side effects, the company said.

Geron also is testing embryonic stem cell treatments using cardiac cells for heart disease, a type of pancreas cells for diabetes, cartilage cells for cartilage repair and immune system cells called dendritic cells for immunotherapy treatments.

Geron, based in Menlo Park, Calif., now will focus soley on cancer research, particularly on drugs that are in mid-stage human testing.

Those include imetelstat for advanced breast cancer, advanced non-small cell lung cancer, a blood-clotting disorder called essential thrombocythemia and multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, and of a therapy called GRN1005, for cancer that has spread to the brain from the breast or lungs.
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireSt...search-laying-off-staff-14951932#.TsLF31vRCT4
 

fletcher

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Jimmy is gonna be pissed.
 

Josh_R

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But, but, Jimmy said Obama will save us all with stem cells.
 

Kugzilla

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My dad died of that multiple myloma they mention at the end. Was a rough one.
 

THE FEZ MAN

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My dad died of that multiple myloma they mention at the end. Was a rough one.
my dad died of the same thing, i wouldn't wish that death on anyone.
 

Josh_R

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Thank you Free Market for helping find cures to these terrible diseases!
Don't you think that if there really was that much promise in stem cell research, that someone somewhere in the world would spend their money to perfect it? What about nations with socialized medicine? Instead of treating the effects of diseases for years and incurring shitloads of costs, why not develop these miracle stem cell treatments and have them on their merry way to continue being a productive and taxable member of society?
 

LiddyRules

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Now Jimmy will need to base his vote on an equally important factor such as whether the candidate prefers white or yellow cheddar.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

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Don't you think that if there really was that much promise in stem cell research, that someone somewhere in the world would spend their money to perfect it? What about nations with socialized medicine? Instead of treating the effects of diseases for years and incurring shitloads of costs, why not develop these miracle stem cell treatments and have them on their merry way to continue being a productive and taxable member of society?
Not when there's more profit on making cholesterol drugs so people can eat more McDonalds and boner pills to help men get it up. No profit in curing real diseases.
 

Josh_R

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Not when there's more profit on making cholesterol drugs so people can eat more McDonalds and boner pills to help men get it up. No profit in curing real diseases.
You don't think that curing a 20 year old cancer patient will lead to decades of that patient buying shitloads more drugs for normal ailments and diseases that occur later in life?
 

MayrMeninoCrash

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You don't think that curing a 20 year old cancer patient will lead to decades of that patient buying shitloads more drugs for normal ailments and diseases that occur later in life?
Compare the cost of years of symptom treatments versus a one-time cure and you do the math. MAYBE at some point in the future there will be a demand from this patient for another one of your drugs, or you could sell him everything you've got now.
 

Party Rooster

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Don't you think that if there really was that much promise in stem cell research, that someone somewhere in the world would spend their money to perfect it? What about nations with socialized medicine?
Those other countries are beating us.

All things being equal, people would rather go with quicker returns on their money when investing in drug research. That's why you've got 10 different cholesterol drugs on the market that are just variations of each other.

When the quick-profit motivation is removed it lets university, government, and other non-profits work on stuff that's harder to develop. Where do you think the Rick Perry's HPV/Cervical cancer vaccine came from? Then the universities and government license the rights to the drug companies to market it. Yay crony capitalism! :action-sm
 

whiskeyguy

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Those other countries are beating us.
Why don't we let them "beat us"? Why does America always have to create something first at exponential costs to the taxpayers? Let Canada, the UK, or France spend $200 billion on stem cell research, and then when they figure it out we'll use it.

You expect me to believe the government will spend the money correctly simply because it's the "right thing to do"? We've seen how well that worked with green energy companies.

if you ever talk to someone who works for a pharmaceutical, you will become utterly enraged at how they pick and choose what to develop.
I'm assuming it's the same way other companies decide with projects to undertake... they pick the ones with the highest returns vs lowest risk/investment.
 

Party Rooster

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Why don't we let them "beat us"? Why does America always have to create something first at exponential costs to the taxpayers?
Because...


Let Canada, the UK, or France spend $200 billion on stem cell research, and then when they figure it out we'll use it.
You don't realize how "research" works, do you? Part of the learning process is failure, that's what leads to brilliance. Edison tried inventing the light bulb 1000 different times. Not to mention the whole "two heads are better than one" philosophy when it comes to research.

By having universities and other learning institutions involved in the development, it is much better in helping them understand the processes involved, not to mention all the things that are discovered by accident in the learning process. Look at why Chinese electronics, military equipment, and other products are shit. They just reverse-engineer the product or steal the technology halfway through development without learning how to develop it from the ground up.

And you do realize we license our discoveries to for-profit companies right? That's why I posted the HPV vaccine link.

You expect me to believe the government will spend the money correctly simply because it's the "right thing to do"? We've seen how well that worked with green energy companies.
If people would realize that funding for the NSF and NIH actually is one of the best returns on our investment, there probably wouldn't be so much fauxrage about it.

Additional Studies Considering the Return on Investment

Several groups have recently revisited the issue of federally supported research and its value. For instance, the National Science Foundation estimates that the rate of return on the Government's investment for basic research can be as high as 40 percent when all the numbers are totaled, including taxes generated from product development6.

In May 2000, the U.S. Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) issued The Benefits of Medical Research and the Role of NIH, which examined the role of federal funding for medical research and the benefits that derive from that research. The Committee report states that, although the rate of return on publicly funded research is difficult to quantify, the benefit of increased life expectancy in the U.S. as a result of advances in health care creates annual net gains of about $2.4 trillion (using 1992 dollars). The Committee concluded, "if only 10 percent of these increases in value ($240 billion) are the result of NIH-funded medical research, it indicates a payoff of about 15 times the taxpayers' annual NIH investment of $16 billion"7.

The JEC report also cites estimates that have been made in econometric studies that place the economy-wide rate of return on publicly funded research on the order of 25 to 40 percent a year. Development of biomedical discoveries also contributes to the national economy by providing therapeutics that reduce what the JEC termed "the economic costs of illness." This includes lost wages due to morbidity and mortality, expenditures associated with health care and treatment of disease, and the intangible costs of pain and suffering caused by disease. The JEC calculated that these costs amount to approximately $3 trillion annually, far exceeding the taxpayers' investment.

The Mary Woodward Lasker Charitable Trust's initiative called "Funding First," commissioned nine distinguished economists to conduct a comprehensive examination of the true economic value of our national investment in medical research. The report, Exceptional Returns: The Economic Value of America's Investment in Medical Research, published in May 2000, concluded that the likely returns from medical research are so extraordinarily high that the payoff from any plausible "portfolio" of investments in research would be enormous. For example, the reductions in mortality from cardiovascular disease alone averaged $1.5 trillion annually during the period 1970-1990. If just one-third of this gain is a result of medical research, the return on investment averaged $500 billion. As the report notes: "That's on the order of 20 times as large as average annual spending on medical research — by any benchmark an astonishing return for the investment8."

The conclusions of these and other studies on the issue of return on investment are consistent and comparable in that they assert that there are both monetary and intangible benefits of remarkable value that are gained from federally funded biomedical research9.
Do you even realize the process for getting an NIH grant? The best and brightest research scientists in this country apply for those. Their requests are peer reviewed by medical experts, not bureaucrats, and grants are decided on merits, not profitability.

And something like 65% of the top advances in medicine in the 20th century came from federally funded research. Can't find where I remember reading that, but there's this:

Most NIH-funded research focuses on basic science, which creates advances across many disease categories. Publicly funded research in general generates high rates of return to the economy, averaging 25 to 40 percent a year.

Successes against many diseases.
NIH-funded research has contributed to dramatic decreases in heart disease and stroke mortality rates, increased cancer survival rates, new medications for mental illness, vaccines to protect against infectious diseases, and many other advances in medicine.

NIH behind 7 of 21 top drugs.
Of the 21 most important drugs introduced between 1965 and
1992, 15 were developed using knowledge and techniques from federally funded research.
Of these, NIH research led to the development of 7 drugs used to treat patients with cancer, AIDS, hypertension, depression, herpes, and anemia.

http://opa.faseb.org/pdf/2008/nih_research_benefits.pdf
I realize the Nobel Prize has lost all its luster of late, but scientists funded by NIH lay claim to 122 Nobel Prizes.

NIH RESEARCH HAS LED TO IMPROVED HEALTH

Thanks to NIH-funded scientists, working at
universities and institutions across the nation and
on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, many
previously deadly or debilitating diseases have been
transformed into manageable conditions. Below are
only a few select examples of how the research
funded by NIH has saved and improved the lives of
millions of Americans and provided doctors with
tools to prevent and/or treat disease:

 More than one million lives per year are saved
due to therapies to prevent death from heart
attack and stroke, resulting in a nearly four year
gain in American life expectancy. Decades of
NIH-supported fundamental research on
cholesterol synthesis, clot-busting agents, and
the basic biology of the cardiovascular system
has culminated in blockbuster drugs such as
statins that are utilized worldwide and have
improved the health of more than 25 million
Americans.

The recent discovery that the anticancer
drug Taxol, when used to coat the wiremesh
stents used during angioplasty, can prevent
blockage of arteries, is expected to substantially
reduce the more than 350,000 annual open-heart
bypass surgeries.


 Since 2002, deaths from cancer have been
steadily reduced, dropping an average of two
percent per year. In December, 2005, as a result
of the work of hundreds of NIH-funded scientists
studying strategies to block the cell signals that
cause tumors to grow, Sorafenib was identified
as a promising treatment for kidney cancer.

Less than a year later, the FDA approved the use of a
vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV)
which has the potential to prevent 70% or more
of cervical cancer, the cause of 300,000 deaths
per year.
The connection between HPV and
cervical cancer which led to development of the
vaccine was made through the research of NIHsupported
scientists. And in one of NIH’s most
powerful success stories, the survival rate for
2 Federation of American Societies For Experimental Biology
childhood cancers, which not long ago claimed
the lives of more than half their victims, is now
nearly 80% and improving.

 NIH-funded discoveries revealing the
fundamental nature of the immune system and
the diseases that challenge it have vastly
improved the quality of life for patients with
conditions ranging from rheumatoid arthritis
to multiple sclerosis to HIV/AIDS.

Drugs which block the actions of tumor necrosis factor
alpha (TNF-•) have dramatically improved the
quality of life for some rheumatoid arthritis
patients, eliminating symptoms, increasing
energy, and decreasing inflammation while
halting the progression of joint destruction and
promoting repair of tissue damage. For those
suffering the debilitating effects of multiple
sclerosis, several new treatments that modulate
the immune system are available, their discovery
and development having been funded in part by
NIH. HIV/AIDS, once a terminal illness, has
been transformed through drug therapy into a
chronic disease, with AIDS drugs estimated to
have saved three million years of life in the
United States alone.

 NIH-funded research on the effects of lifestyle
changes is helping to teach Americans how to
prevent diabetes, reverse serious heart disease
risk factors, and slow the signs of aging. Diet
and exercise changes have been shown to reverse
diabetes and metabolic syndrome, strengthen
bones and prevent osteoporosis, and even reduce
the risk of dementia. Studies have shown that
people who exercise regularly in middle age are
one-third less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease
in their 70s as those who did not exercise. And
even people who begin exercising in their 60s
have their risk reduced by half. In addition, NIHfunded
research in nutrition is exploring the
linkages between micronutrients such as Vitamin
D and cancer, raising new questions for scientists
and laying the groundwork for future health
milestones.

INVESTMENT IN NIH BRINGS HOPE,
TREATMENTS ON THE HORIZON
Arguably, the two trends of greatest consequence
for American health in the twenty-first century are
the rapid aging of the population and the
unprecedented progress in medical research that is
helping us to live longer, healthier lives. The life
sciences revolution that has taken place over the past
two decades has led us to the brink of developing
new treatments and strategies for confronting our
greatest health challenges, including those of the
over-65 population, soon to number 70 million.

Investment in NIH has already unlocked the secrets
of the human genome and allowed scientists to gain
new insight into how disease works at the most basic
levels within our bodies. Researchers are arming
themselves with this knowledge to identify targets
for new drugs, therapies, and vaccines, which can
halt the progression of disease before irrevocable
damage occurs:


 Blindness: The prospect that it may someday
be possible to restore vision in some people who
have lost most or all of their eyesight was
strengthened when scientists were able to help
blind mice regain some ability to see after
receiving transplants of cells taken from the eyes
of other mice.

NIH-supported researchers
showed for the first time that light-detecting cells
in the retina can orient themselves properly after
being injected into a blind eye, connect to other
nerve cells and communicate appropriately with
visual centers in the brain. Moreover, researchers
have discovered the genetic flaws that underlie
a major type of glaucoma, a leading cause of
blindness.

Similarly, scientists have identified a
genetic abnormality that accounts for up to 50
percent of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
(AMD) cases, a blinding disease for which more
than 8 million older Americans are at risk. By
pinpointing what goes wrong in these conditions,
these findings may provide a basis for devising
new treatments.

 Alzheimer’s disease: A team of NIH-funded
scientists developed a test that was about 90
percent accurate in distinguishing the blood
National Institutes of Health 3
of people with Alzheimer’s from the blood of
those without the disease. The test was about
80 percent accurate in predicting which
patients with mild memory loss would go on
to develop Alzheimer’s disease two to six
years later. In addition, basic and genetic
studies describe some of the processes
involved in Alzheimer’s, revealing numerous
targets for new drug development. Such
discoveries shed light on why toxic molecules
build up in the brain and lead to the plaques
and tangles characteristic of Alzheimer’s, and
how brain cell-signaling systems affecting
memory are disrupted.

 Drug resistant tuberculosis and staph: Nearly
one-third of the world’s population is infected
with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the infectious
agent that causes TB, and more than one million
people die of this disease each year. In recent
years, TB has presented even more serious
challenges, with the emergence of multiple drug
resistant and extensively drug resistant TB. NIH
has developed a drug known as SQ109, in
partnership with the biotech company Sequella,
which is currently undergoing FDA-approved
clinical testing for treatment of drug resistant
TB. The recent epidemic of methicillin-resistant
(drug resistant) Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
has underscored the critical importance of
research to seek new ways to counter and prevent
the emergence of “super bugs.”

More:
http://opa.faseb.org/pdf/2008/FedFund09.pdf
I'm assuming it's the same way other companies decide with projects to undertake... they pick the ones with the highest returns vs lowest risk/investment.
You don't see the difference in quality of life between medical breakthroughs and a cool new smartphone?

Oh, and this post was sponsored by:

:action-sm

 

Josh_R

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Do you even realize the process for getting an NIH grant? The best and brightest research scientists in this country apply for those. Their requests are peer reviewed by medical experts, not bureaucrats, and grants are decided on merits, not profitability.
You mean something like this?

NIH-Backed Study Examined Effects of Penis Size in Gay Community
By Judson Berger
Published July 18, 2011
| FoxNews.com
Print Email Share

AP
National Institutes of Health
The federal government helped fund a study that examined what effect a gay man's penis size has on his sex life and general well-being.
The study was among several backed by the National Institutes of Health that have come under scrutiny from a group claiming the agency is wasting valuable tax dollars at a time when the country is trying to control its debt. This particular research resulted in a 2009 report titled, "The Association Between Penis Size and Sexual Health Among Men Who Have Sex with Men."

The study reported, among its findings, that gay men with "below average penises" were more likely to assume a "bottom" sexual position, while those with "above average penises" were more likely to assume a "top" sexual position. Those with average penises identified themselves as "versatile" in the bedroom.
Though it's difficult to trace exactly how much federal funding went to the project, the study was one of many linked to an $899,769 grant in 2006. The grant was administered by NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse, and went first to a group called Public Health Solutions and a researcher with the National Development and Research Institutes before going to individual researchers.
Those researchers then compiled data from a survey of more than 1,000 gay and bisexual men at events in New York City for the gay community.
"This country is broke and we cannot spend money on this kind of stuff," said Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, which drew attention to the report as part of a six-month investigation into NIH grants for examples of "institutional waste."
"We're spending money on wacky stuff," Lafferty said.
But one of the researchers involved with the report told FoxNews.com that NIH funding was only used to help "analyze and write up" data that had already been collected without the use of taxpayer funds.
"The data were not collected using taxpayer funds," Jeffrey Parsons, a professor with Hunter College, said in an email. "NIH funds were not used to measure anyone's penis size."
"This study was funded by the Hunter College Center for HIV/AIDS Education Studies and Training," the National Institutes of Health said. "Dr. Christian Grov was supported as a postdoctoral research fellow at the time the research was conducted by a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded training grant."
Parsons took issue with Lafferty's description of the grant.
A Traditional Values Coalition release stated that at least $9.4 million went to a 10-year study that included the penis-size research -- but Parsons said it appears that references a much broader "post-doctoral training program" of which the penis-study funding was a "small" part.
Other studies stemming from the same 2006 grant examined topics ranging from the drug market in Houston following Hurricane Katrina to the connection between contraceptives and STD prevention in Madagascar.
"To suggest that 9.4 million dollars was spent to study penis sizes is factually inaccurate and simply designed to create news," Parsons wrote.
The study, which last year was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, claimed there previously had been "little research among men who have sex with men assessing the association between penis size and socio-sexual health."
The study found that men with larger penises were more likely to contract certain sexually transmitted diseases. It also found that men with above-average penises enjoyed more satisfaction with their lifestyle.
The original survey had a relatively high response rate -- with 83 percent of those approached agreeing to participate. "As an incentive, those who completed the survey were given a voucher for free admission to a movie," the study said.
Lafferty's group drew attention to several other studies Monday that it claimed were "bizarre" in the current fiscal climate. Among them was one that asked individuals to "mail in their toenails" to measure "toenail nicotine," according to the values coalition.
"The president has said he's going to hunt down waste. Well, I'm going to give it to him on a platter," Lafferty said.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/201...ts-penis-size-in-gay-community/#ixzz1duYvtJPa
 

Party Rooster

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Way to cherry-pick there Josh. But you forgot to highlight this:

But one of the researchers involved with the report told FoxNews.com that NIH funding was only used to help "analyze and write up" data that had already been collected without the use of taxpayer funds.
"The data were not collected using taxpayer funds," Jeffrey Parsons, a professor with Hunter College, said in an email. "NIH funds were not used to measure anyone's penis size."
I'm not saying that it's not a stupid allocation of taxpayer money, but to try and discredit the whole organization because of it is ridiculous. Sounds like the money spent was in the thousands of dollars, not millions. If that's the best a bible-thumping right wing organization (Traditional Values Coalition) could come up with in a six month investigation, I'd say they failed.
 

JonBenetRamsey

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I'm assuming it's the same way other companies decide with projects to undertake... they pick the ones with the highest returns vs lowest risk/investment.
that and the cost of testing. if the cost of testing is too high, it's killed in the idea stage.
 

Josh_R

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Jan 29, 2005
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#22
Way to cherry-pick there Josh. But you forgot to highlight this:



I'm not saying that it's not a stupid allocation of taxpayer money, but to try and discredit the whole organization because of it is ridiculous. Sounds like the money spent was in the thousands of dollars, not millions. If that's the best a bible-thumping right wing organization (Traditional Values Coalition) could come up with in a six month investigation, I'd say they failed.
Meh, it was the first result for "NIH waste of money" on Google. Yeah I saw that the money wasn't technically used to measure anyone's filthy dick, but you have that whole "fungibility" thing that I don't like. You know like how taxpayer money goes to Planned Parenthood but "only for testing and contraceptives" and not the abortions that take place in the exact same building by the same company.
 

Party Rooster

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#24
You know like how taxpayer money goes to Planned Parenthood but "only for testing and contraceptives" and not the abortions that take place in the exact same building by the same company.
So we're going to ignore all the good they do, and the fact that BECAUSE of easy access to contraception, it actually means LESS unwanted babies being aborted? I believe that's called "throwing the baby out with the bath water that was vacuumed out with a shopvac." :icon_cool
 

whiskeyguy

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Jesus Christ OAPC, I'll read some long posts but that's pretty obnoxious. Even if they did develop useful technology, they absolutely did it at enormous costs. Also, it's simply not the government's place to do this type of shit. I have no issue with privately-funded testing, but don't want my tax dollars going to it. Whoever develops the next phenomenal technology from stem cell research will probably become a billionaire, so let the free market work towards it.