According to the agency, the program will run out of funds within three years as it’s unclear as to what the Trump’s administration will do about the research work. It’s on this basis that the number of patients set to benefit from the stem research is expected to reduce significantly.
So why is stem cell research facing shutdown? Well, the therapies involved in this process have been found to be expensive. So far the agency has been spending $22,000 every hour for seven days a week. This has yet to replicate on the number of patients benefiting from it as the figures are still low.
Shinya Yamanaka, Nobel-prize scientist winner, gave his opinion on the issue. “We can just help a portion of patients with stem cell therapy,” he said. He further linked the therapies to having few ailments in which it is applicable.
What is Stem cell?
Now, these are a group of cells that are able to disintegrate into specialized cell types mainly in form of embryos. The other type of stem cell is the adult cell which is capable of self-regeneration and division.
Where are the cells located? Well, most of the adult stem cells can be traced in cell tissues. This includes bone marrow, skin, liver and blood.
When it comes to the embryonic stem cell, a procedure is followed starting with extraction of a 4- 5day old (blastocyst stage) embryo from a human female. The extracted embryo is then placed in a container filled with nutrient-rich solution.
Here, the isolated cells have the ability to assimilate any body cell while still dividing and multiplying. Over time scientists have shown their preference of the embryonic stem cell over the adult cell. This mainly attributed to the ability of the embryo cell to replicate into many cell types.
The generated stem cells are majorly used in the treatment of chronic ailments such as Alzheimer and cardiovascular disease. Also encompassed are stem therapy sessions.
About stem cell research in California
When President George W. Bush took to campaign trail back in 2004, he championed the adoption of stem cell program. This even extended to celebrities such as Christopher Reeve and Michael J. Fox (both with chronic conditions) joining the wagon to woe more people to embrace the research program. Furthermore, the administration promised that about 50% of patients suffering from chronic ailments will recuperate thanks to the initiative.
Once the administration took charge, a bond measure dubbed”Proposition 71” was introduced. Here the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) was formed. Donald Kohn, a scientist at UCLA, specialized in stem cell research and has received state support via a $52 million donation.
One of the beneficiaries is Evangelina (who shared how the program had transformed her life). She was diagnosed with “bubby baby” syndrome at birth. This meant that she had a dysfunctional immune system. When scientists at UCLA introduced her to the program, they took her blood sample then restructured the abnormal gene and injected it back into her bloodstream.
Fate of the program
According to Robert Klein, head of Americans For Cures advocacy group and former chairman of CIRM board, there is need to retain the stem cell program. This is because it will continue helping dozens of people and is also an income generating venture. “It has been a creator of jobs, and the state benefits from taxes by attracting research centers here,” said Klein.
The misfortune bit about this medical program is that a decade after the promulgation it has run out funds. It’s on this grounds that the state is reaching out to voters to contribute to retaining the program.
No cures yet
In spite of the remarkable progress made by scientists in the stem cell field, there is a different story on voters. Many people feel that there is low success rate as few patients get to benefit from the program. This not all of voters are infuriated by the heavy funding the department receives via stem cell agency.
But regardless of the uncertainty, the program has greatly changed the lives of thousands of people.