Just how much benefit might be derived from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the $3 billion in public funds allocated to it over the next 10 years? That is a good question and one that the voters in California might ask.
Prior to the passage of Proposition 71 in 2004, proponents of the bill promoted various possible benefits: new cures for diseases, economic growth from attracting new companies and researchers, royalty revenue for the state. A recently published study conducted by Michael Longaker, Laurence Baker, and Henry Greely of Stanford University reviews key components of the health and financial benefits Californians may have expected from the additional research funding and develops a framework for evaluating the success of this bold initiative at meeting those goals.
In the May issue of Nature Biotechnology, it was noted that “policies like Proposition 71 do not generate discoveries that would otherwise never have been made, but rather they can help by shortening the time that elapses before therapies become available.” In the article, a hypothetical stem cell therapy for Type 1 Diabetes was outlined. The authors evaluated such factors as the burden of the disease, lengthening of life, benefits to patient family members and friends, patient’s productivity improvement, and overall healthcare system resource use in economic terms. Assuming the hypothetical stem cell treatment halves the impact of Type 1 Diabetes, by 2030, it was estimated that the health care costs among diabetics might be decreased by millions of dollars. This is a huge amount of savings and but one contribution to curing just one disease.
Illustration: California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Proposition 71 and CIRM—assessing the return on investment
NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY VOLUME 25 NUMBER 5 MAY 2007.