Your morning jolt: Company behind Atlanta study pulls plug on stem cell research

The California-based company behind a pioneering experiment at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta – studying whether human embryonic stem cells can be used to repair spinal injuries — announced Monday it would halt the research and focus on developing two cancer drugs.

Geron was the first company ever permitted to conduct embryonic stem cell tests on humans. From McClatchy-Tribune News Service:

Although the company has sufficient finances to cover its cancer-drug costs over the next 20 months without having to raise more money, it noted in a news release, “this would not be possible if we continue to fund the stem cell programs at the current levels.”

…Besides the spinal research, Geron had been studying human embryonic stem cells as possible treatments for such ailments as diabetes, heart disease and cartilage repair. The company said it would attempt to seek “partners” to continue the research and “will retain a core group of employees from its stem cell operations” through the first half of next year to “facilitate transfer of these programs” to someone else.

The experiment at the Shepherd Center involved 21-year-old nursing student Timothy Atchison, who was paralyzed from the chest down after a car crash.

***
Gloria Cain, wife of GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, was interviewed by Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren last night. See all the clips here. The primary topic was sexual harassment, but some good biographic information is included as well. The Cains’ first date was a Charlton Heston movie at Lenox Square.

This was how the Gloria Cain interview ended:

VAN SUSTEREN: After the first woman — but after the second woman, rather, when the more graphic descriptions came out — did you confront him about that one and say, what’s up with that, or not?

G. CAIN: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he say anything to you?

G. CAIN: No. I heard his comments with his news conference.

VAN SUSTEREN: You didn’t ask him — you didn’t, the two of you when you were together you didn’t ask him?

G. CAIN: No, because I listened to what she said. And I’m thinking, no, I’m sorry. That’s — some of the things that you’re saying about him, that’s not Herman. So, no, I didn’t ask him about that. And I’m not being naive.

***
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood should be on the ground now in Savannah, in the midst of a tour of the Port of Savannah with Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Both Georgians obviously will be pressing LaHood for several hundred million dollars for dredging the port – to allow it to take in larger cargo ships.

One topic unlikely to come up is U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ Monday declaration that Georgia might be willing to dicker about the federal government’s share in the project. From the Savannah Morning News:

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss wants a second look at a formula calling for the federal government to pay 60 percent of Savannah harbor deepening costs.

“I think it’s incumbent … on the federal government to pay its fair share,” Chambliss told reporters Monday. “Now what is that … ? There might be a re-evaluation based on the financial climate we’re in.”

…A decade-old law calls for a 60 percent federal share of the estimated $625 million tab — or $372 million — and for the state to pay the rest, $253 million.

***
Jekyll Island Authority Chairman Bob Krueger doesn’t think much of the recent Georgia Lottery Corporation study of the money that might be generated from a casino on his island. From the Florida Times-Union:

“You’ve all seen the news about the Georgia Lottery Commission’s recommendation to have casino gambling on Jekyll Island,” Krueger said. “Well, the authority stands firm that there won’t be an increase in gambling beyond what currently exists — lottery tickets and maybe a few side bets on golf games.”

***
From an interview with convicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff by The Hill newspaper in D.C.:

Q: Do you continue to have relationships with Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Bob Ney, Tom DeLay, Mike Scanlon or any of the other people you worked closely with in the past?

Abramoff: Well, of that list, I’ve talked to Tom DeLay, and Scanlon’s in prison, so I can’t have any contact with him.

Bob Ney sent me a note on Facebook.

I haven’t had any contact with Grover, and Ralph Reed, I haven’t had any contact with.

***
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at this Sept. 15 statement from U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta:

“With an extra 8 million Americans projected to join state Medicaid programs in the next few years, state governments need the flexibility to make cost-saving reforms to Medicaid in order to balance their budgets.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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196 comments Add your comment

Aquagirl

November 15th, 2011
9:23 am

Big Pharma wins again.

Bill Orvis White

November 15th, 2011
9:30 am

Gloria Cain is the classiest woman alive. While I love Speaker Gingrich and think that he would be a fine president, I still pray for Herman Cain….. With that fact clearly laid out here on this lefty blog, I am thrilled that this stem cell thing will thankfully die in the South. WE THE PEOPLE in the South know that we serve the Lord and we ought to not to disrespect the Lord by trying to play God. Playing around with stem cells, cloning and eggs is wrong, anti-biblical and anti-American.
Amen,
Bill

td

November 15th, 2011
9:32 am

Looks like Stem Cells is not panning out to be the miracle cure that all these libs thought it was. Bush made the correct decision on how to research the issue. I wonder if any of you libs will acknowledge this one?

Concerned Atlantan

November 15th, 2011
9:34 am

Why, exactly, is Kasim Reed in Savannah? Is he trying to ruin 2 Georgia cities?

whatdoiknow

November 15th, 2011
9:41 am

CA:

Look at it this way . . . If Mayor Reed is in Savannah that means he is doing less damage to Atlanta. I wonder . . . Did his brother drive him to Savannah?

DannyX

November 15th, 2011
9:43 am

“Looks like Stem Cells is not panning out to be the miracle cure that all these libs thought it was.”

Wrong again td, you are making things up again.

Try to read first!

November 15th, 2011
9:43 am

@td – Where does it say that the research is failing? It’s a matter of funding you genius! READ!

Aquagirl

November 15th, 2011
9:55 am

Since td is too lazy to read, here’s what the president/CFO of Geron said: “Although no problems have turned up so far in the stem cell study, Geron’s cancer-drug studies are further along, making them a better bet for the company to pursue”

It’s about the bottom line, not medicine. Duh. td will no doubt be happy those blastocysts will be thrown into the trash instead of producing stem cells. The dignity of human life and all that.

John K

November 15th, 2011
10:01 am

Read? Isn’t that something elitists do?

UGA 1999

November 15th, 2011
10:06 am

This research was critical to the spinal benefits of stem cells. I hate to see it go away. You would think they would be able to find the funding to continue this program.

Little Engine

November 15th, 2011
10:09 am

The burn rate on the money was more than Geron could sustain. They are looking for a partner to take it over. That will be tough. The truth is money will be a factor in embryonic stem cells, adult bone marrow stem cells or even cord blood cells. The “first in human” trials are very expensive. This trial ends early with zero ill affects at this point in the study and the patients already will continue to be followed.

rudikkingme

November 15th, 2011
10:10 am

You know, growing up in America in the fifties and sixties, it became a cliche to say that all the politicians were crooks. My aunts and uncles wouldn’t need much more than a couple of blasts at parties to become entrenched in the bitter rhetoric of the disenfranchised electorate who comprise 99% of all the democrats, (apparently).

But to listen2abramoff, who served so little time in prison, and who emerged intact with all his millions, and of whom it can be said, “he earned a million dollars per mess hall riot, the dirty rat” is an uniquely American self-fulfilling prophesy tale.

We not only encourage criminals, we pay them. That’s because Capitalism simply doesn’t work without pirates, war, or Japanese schoolgirl lesbian porn. And that’s just a natural borne fact, jack.

shoshanna

November 15th, 2011
10:11 am

The stated outcome of the test by Geron as reported in the original AJC article was NOT whether or not the treatment would heal Timothy, RATHER it was whether or not he developed CANCER from the treatment they GAVE him. Embryonic stem cells are widely known to cause cancer in the recipients.This is WHY venture capitalists don’t invest in embryonic stem cell research, they get the tax payers to fund this type of deadly human experimentation.

The I am so sorry for Timothy. My prayers are with him.

UGA 1999

November 15th, 2011
10:11 am

rudikkingme…..hey how is that OWS thing working out for ya?

william henry talbot walker

November 15th, 2011
10:14 am

If TD could read, he wouldn’t have voted for Sonny twice, and our current disaster, Shady…

UGA 1999

November 15th, 2011
10:15 am

William….funny Sonny was a great governor and Deal is proving to be worth the vote as well. It is so easy to sit back and point fingers at our local government when the federal government is screwing everything up for them. Great work!

Married for life

November 15th, 2011
10:18 am

“She admitted that she knew about the sexual harassment charges filed against her husband while he served at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, but that once the charges were found to be unreliable, Mrs. Cain claimed, ‘From that point on, we had never said anything else about it.’”

Even if I believed my husband was innocent, we would certainly be discussing the public and private impacts on our relationship.

Lynn43

November 15th, 2011
10:18 am

If I am a “lib” because I hope there is a cure for someone who is paralyzed, or relief for a child who has diabetes or an older person who has alzheimer’s disease, then bring on the labels, and I will wear them proudly.

UGA 1999

November 15th, 2011
10:19 am

Lynn….I dont think you are a lib for those feelings…I feel the same.

SexyCool

November 15th, 2011
10:20 am

G.Cain – “So, no, I didn’t ask him about that. And I’m not being naive.”

Um…yeah…okay…what you said.

GaBlue

November 15th, 2011
10:23 am

As any big pharm stockholder can tell you, the big money is in “long-term treatment,” NOT cures! Look at any of the $billion$ worth of advertising they buy every single day. Any of them cure anything? Nope. They all require us to line up at our neighborhood pharmacy every month for the rest of our lives.

The researches are not tasked with curing anything, only with creating marketable products for long-term addiction.

Aquagirl

November 15th, 2011
10:26 am

the stated outcome of the test by Geron as reported in the original AJC article was NOT whether or not the treatment would heal Timothy, RATHER it was whether or not he developed CANCER from the treatment they GAVE him. Embryonic stem cells are widely known to cause cancer in the recipients.

No. Phase I trials are ALWAYS about dosing, safety and tolerablity of a treatment, those are the only questions they are designed to answer. Data on effectiveness is considered, and may mean more or less attention and resources from the company but it’s not an endpoint.

Fake all the concern and moral high ground you want, shoshanna, but you’re making baby Jesus cry.

UGA 1999

November 15th, 2011
10:28 am

Aquagirl…..hahahaha “baby Jesus” “little 8lb 6oz baby Jesus with blue eyes”…..the great words of “Step Brothers”!

td

November 15th, 2011
10:34 am

Lynn43

November 15th, 2011
10:18 am

The lib label is because the libs thought (without any research) that stem cells was a miracle and that we needed to put tons of Federal money into how to use them to find some kind of cure. GWB said lets do some research on what we have and see how it pans out.

It appears that stem cells is not the immediate miracle cure the libs thought it was (not to say that there may not be value down the road) or the private sector would be dumping tons of money in the research and not slowing down the research. GWB did not go overboard and waste the taxpayers money and instead let the private sector find the value.

Edward

November 15th, 2011
10:36 am

The words of Bill Orvis White and td and a few others of their kind could easily be mistaken as spoken by an Islamic extremist. The same ignorant, religious-zealot rants against anything intelligent. No wonder the South is so screwed up.

Ayncoulter

November 15th, 2011
10:45 am

If Herman Cain doesn’t get the GOP nomination, then he definately needs to run as a 3rd party candidate. Also, Michele Bachmann needs to run as a 4th party candidate and, of course, Ron Paul needs to run as a 5th party candidate. That way, good conservatives like me will have some choices.

UGA 1999

November 15th, 2011
10:45 am

td….good point as well.

GaBlue

November 15th, 2011
10:46 am

Edward,

Mr. Bill Orvis White is a satirist. This “td” person is uh…. well, there’s just no point in reading her posts. I hope you aren’t judging all Southerners based on these select ramblings.

quake

November 15th, 2011
10:48 am

EVERYONE should support stem cell research. Did anyone else see this?

Recent research is providing early evidence that adult and embryonic stem cells may be able to replace damaged heart muscle cells and establish new blood vessels to supply them. Discussed here are some of the recent discoveries that feature stem cell replacement and muscle regeneration strategies for repairing the damaged heart.

Source: http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/scireport/chapter9.asp

Aquagirl

November 15th, 2011
10:51 am

“little 8lb 6oz baby Jesus with blue eyes”…..the great words of “Step Brothers”!

Every authentic Nativity scene should include scales.

td

November 15th, 2011
10:52 am

Edward

November 15th, 2011
10:36 am

Please show me where I mentioned anything about religion in my post on this subject? That devil must be in your head this morning for forcing you to make such a bigoted post.

RetiredSoldier

November 15th, 2011
10:54 am

Edward-

Is your post “an eye for an eye”? The highways run in any direction you want to go my friend. You can even leave the drivimg to Greyhound.

ByteMe

November 15th, 2011
10:56 am

td says “Looks like Stem Cells is not panning out to be the miracle cure that all these libs thought it was”

Umm, dude, the two cancer drugs they are pursuing are further along than the spinal injury therapy they were developing — which only had 4 people in a very limited trial — so they are conserving cash, because smaller pharma firms never have enough cash unless they get a therapy to the finish line sooner rather than later.

In this oncology program, besides the main drug Imetelstat Sodium, which is a telomerase inhibitor, is GRN1005. GRN1005 is used to pass the BBB (blood brain barrier). The brain has natural defenses to keep out unwanted agents. Unfortunately medicine is an unwanted agent to the body. GRN1005 is in a combo phase 1 and 2 trial. So far encouraging results have been seen. There is a 20% response rate using GRN1005 compared to the 2-6% response rate seen from current drugs on the market targeting brain metastases. Since brain cancer treatment is a huge unmet need, the company hopes it can bring this drug as a fast track after phase 2.

You’re better off not starting with a point of view and looking for wrong examples to support it.

DannyX

November 15th, 2011
10:58 am

The Savannah port needs to be deepened so it can handle the new Chinese super tankers that will be carrying drugs they developed from their stem cell investment, research and development.

honested

November 15th, 2011
11:00 am

td,

I don’t recall your posts including references to being a self-deluded hillbilly either, but there it is.

UGA 1999

November 15th, 2011
11:02 am

honested…..try to refrain from name calling.

Aquagirl

November 15th, 2011
11:02 am

Please show me where I mentioned anything about religion in my post on this subject?

Walks like a talibaptist, quacks like a talibaptist…..it’s a talibabtist.

Part of Geron’s financial decision was the cost of “regulatory complexities,” td, I’m sure you’ll decry this big-government interference in a free market. It’s obvious the diabetics and paraplegics are of no concern to you, but people are losing their JOBS because of burdensome federal regulations.That oughta get your wingnut attention. It’s funny you haven’t said a peep.

rudikkingme

November 15th, 2011
11:03 am

Cain’s wife is very much like Lot’s wife, who turned into a pillar of salt, or became a statue. Cain’s wife is that statue to his philandering, the wife who just doesn’t accept what’s happening, in spite of the tumult around her. He must have beat her mercilessly to get that kind of knee jerk defense of an obvious scoundrel, who even lost his temper with reporters when they asked him ’bout the old in and out.

The OWS phenomena is unsustainable because of the unsanitary conditions. If only there had been a larger park with a running stream, then the disenfranchised poor could have taken over wall street and we’d all be rich. But for the lack of one urinal cake, a bathroom was lost, but for the lack of one bathroom, a platform was lost…and But for the lack of one platform, justice was lost. Hey! That’s just like in Macbeth, man!!

td

November 15th, 2011
11:05 am

honested

November 15th, 2011
11:00 am

You are just jealous that far left philosophy you prescribe to is falling apart and the conservative ideology is proving each and everyday to be the correct way proceed in this country.

R U Kidding Me

November 15th, 2011
11:07 am

td:

“Looks like Stem Cells is not panning out to be the miracle cure that all these libs thought it was”

I guess td missed the news story last night on every national network about the breakthrough in using your own stem cells to regrow damaged heart muscles. The medical community said it could be the biggest medical advancement for the treatment of heart disease EVER. It has been successfully done in several human patients with remarkable results.

So once again, td’s mouth doesn’t seem to match up with the facts.

honested

November 15th, 2011
11:08 am

td,

And there you prove you don’t pay attention to current events.

Only on fauxnewz is the ‘CONservative philosophy’ proving anything.

Jackson

November 15th, 2011
11:11 am

Edward….The South is not what’s screwed up. It’s the thinking and acts of the wannabe “politically correct” pseudo intelligent, like you, who have screwed this whole country up.

td

November 15th, 2011
11:12 am

Aquagirl

November 15th, 2011
11:02 am

“It’s obvious the diabetics and paraplegics are of no concern to you,”

We disagree a great deal on these blogs but that is an unfair statement. Just because one does not believe in the government approach to problem solving (government spending tons of taxpayer funds on something that might help) does not mean that a person does not want cures for diseases.

I think solar power, wind power and other alternative energies but I think we have proven the money should not come from the federal government to produce such energies.

honested

November 15th, 2011
11:16 am

jackson,

Could it be that the shrub Administrations ‘Zardoz’ approach to medical research and foreign policy might have added to the elements that ’screwed this country up’?

UGA 1999

November 15th, 2011
11:17 am

Honested….hey bud, newsflash….FoxNews is the #1 news agency in the country…..hmmmmm I wonder why?

honested

November 15th, 2011
11:18 am

td,

So TAXPAYER FUNDS (the money that comes FROM the Federal Government) should not go to causes that might benefit American Citizens but should only go to solve festering family disputes in middle eastern countries?

Your rationale lacks rationality.

honested

November 15th, 2011
11:19 am

uga,

You might want to look again.

PBS NewsHour has about 3 times the audience on any given night.

But they will pat you on the head for spreading their mis-guidance!

Ayncoulter

November 15th, 2011
11:20 am

td, good point. We should never have had TVA or the Rural Electric Commission either. I think most of GA would be better off using candles. It would be tough to watch the NASCAR races, Fox and use a pc to post stupid things on the AJC board without power, but it’s not like anyone is using their lights to read books.

td

November 15th, 2011
11:20 am

R U Kidding Me

November 15th, 2011
11:07 am

You see studies on the news every other day about how this or that will cure cancer, stop diabetes and so on. Some of them pan out eventually to help cure some disease and some of them do not. My whole point is not that Stem Cells will not eventually become one of these cures. My point is that it is not the Federal governments role to pump billions of dollars into these potential cures.

As Newt has said many times, if it was up to the Federal government with polio we would have the worlds best iron lung but would not have a vaccine to prevent the disease.

DannyX

November 15th, 2011
11:23 am

“I think solar power, wind power and other alternative energies but I think we have proven the money should not come from the federal government to produce such energies.”

That is complete hogwash. Our publicly funded universities help create advances all the time. Agriculture, medical, computer technology, the list goes on and on.

It used to be that conservatives understood the partnership between government and business, but modern conservative ideology is set on destroying it. Ronald Reagan would never stand for it. As governor of California Reagan grew the university system that helped create companies that are now the envy of the world.

China is investing in technology and will soon become dominate because conservatives want to destroy government investment.