Marlowe's Shade

Friday, September 15, 2006

Stem Cell Research Becomes an Issue in MA Governor's Race

But not in the way you might think.

From the Boston Herald.

A company founded by Chris Gabrieli is one of the world’s leading patent holders in stem cell research, raising questions about the Democratic candidate for governor’s denials that he stands to profit from his plan to fund the controversial science with tax dollars.

Isis Pharmaceuticals - a company in which Gabrieli owns $1.5 million in stock - ranks third in the country in stem cell patents. Gabrieli sat on the firm’s board of directors until February.

The company holds 46 stem cell patents - second only to the University of California and the Japan Science and Technology Agency - and has as many as 30 more pending.

One Isis patent reviewed by the Herald is for a technique devised by the company for “maintaining a pluripotent stem cell.” The highly technical document also includes mention of “embryonic stem cells” while other patents refer to methods of preserving stem cells.

But Gabrieli insisted yesterday that “Isis doesn’t do stem cell research.”

“Clearly, either Gabrieli doesn’t know what he has or he’s lying,” said Tim O’Brien, spokesman for Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey. “It’s clear that his holdings are a conflict of interest.”

The controversy came to a head yesterday when Healey launched an attack ad accusing Gabrieli of positioning himself to reap a financial windfall from his plan to invest $1 billion in taxpayer money in stem cell research.

But wait, there's more!

The Herald also has learned that Gabrieli has ties to two biotech executives who have come under fire in California for sitting on an independent board that oversees that state’s $3 billion, taxpayer-funded stem cell research program. Gabrieli has called the California program a “model” for his Bay State plan.

Ten of the 29 executives on the California board have been criticized for their investments and interests in biotech companies, including Isis Pharmaceuticals director John Reed. The other with ties to Gabrieli is Ted Love, a board member of Predix Pharmaceuticals, a company that recently merged with Epix Pharmaceuticals, which is in Gabrieli’s investment portfolio.

In another twist, Thomas Shea, who appears in a heart-wrenching Gabrieli political ad touting the benefits of stem cell research, is the chief financial officer for TolerRX. The company does stem cell research. A Gabrieli aide said Shea and Gabrieli met while pushing for Massachusetts’ stem cell bill.

Gabrieli seemed to waver on the investment issue yesterday, saying: “I know of no company in my portfolio - certainly not (Isis) - that does stem cell research.”

He later said, “I don’t believe any of the companies I’ve invested in are doing stem cell research and if they are, I don’t apologize for it. I believe in stem cell research.”

He downplayed allegations he could make millions by approving a taxpayer-funded stem cell research bill if elected governor, and vowed to sell his stocks to eliminate any possible conflict.

It's sounds like at least one of Isis' patents may involve adult stem cells, but the MSM has never been good at making those distinctions. But the patent the Herald mentions has references to ESCR.

As I've stated before, it's the profit motive that makes ESCR so appealing to politicians, and a good case can be made that the entire industry is an enormous scam targeting the taxpayers and exploiting the hopes of the sick and disabled.

Lest anyone think Lt. Gov. Healey is taking the moral high ground, she also supports ESCR.
papijoe 11:51 AM