That was my first – and second – reaction when I read the news about a British team that is making a documentary about the promise of stem cells. It’s not the promise that struck me as hype but the claim in their news release that says:
“The documentary, which focuses on the controversy around stem cells in the United States, and how the US is falling behind within the medical field of stem cell treatments.”It later goes on to say that:
"The UK is the hub of stem cell research in the world and by basing the project here we aim to portray the unbiased truth about the benefits of stem cell treatments."Now, working at California’s stem cell agency I might be considered a little biased in my judgment but I grew up in the UK, and I also worked in TV news and made some documentaries so I can see this from both perspectives. But theirs is just wrong.
Let’s take a look at the facts:
• The US spends vastly more on stem cell research than the UK
• California alone spends more on stem cell research than the UK
• There are far more stem cell scientists in the US than in the UK
The UK is clearly an important player in the field, but it is certainly not on the field alone. There is a vast international community working on moving stem cell-based therapies to the clinic for patients.
CIRM has collaborative funding agreements with 13 international funding agencies to foster collaborations between the best scientists here and abroad. You can see the full list here. KM