The $3 billion state agency dedicated to fighting cancer "was a brilliant idea" for which Texas lawmakers and taxpayers should be commended, a Harvard Medical School professor previously affiliated with the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas wrote in October.But now it's an idea whose brilliance has been tarnished by flawed execution that could be something worse.In October, more than 30 medical specialists, including two Nobel Prize winners, resigned from their positions reviewing projects seeking grants from the 5-year-old agency. The reviewers complained that some grants were being awarded not because they met high peer-review standards for good science but because they claimed to have commercial promise or were pushed by politically connected individuals.In late November, it was revealed that CPRIT approved $11 million over three years for Dallas-based Peloton Therapeutics without its proposal going through the legally required review.The Dallas Morning News reported that CPRIT said the Peloton grant had been "improperly" placed on a 2010 agenda of the agency's Oversight Committee, which didn't object to the award. (dallasne.ws/11c0xj3)But the chief commercialization officer who supposedly put the item on the agenda has left CPRIT, and there are unanswered questions about the role of the agency's executive director in it all.Now, the lawmakers who sponsored the legislation to create CPRIT are asking for answers.Texas taxpayers have underwritten grants worth more than $700 million so far, ostensibly to enable research that can enhance understanding, treatment and even cures for this hideous disease.In a Nov. 30 letter, Sen. Jane Nelson of Flower Mound and Rep. Jim Keffer of Eastland told agency executives, "CPRIT cannot succeed in its effort to fight cancer without the public's trust, and right now that trust is in serious jeopardy." (bit.ly/QvMuBG)William Kaelin, that Harvard physician among the reviewers who resigned, wrote that, "In this environment I am not confident that scientific quality and rigor will triumph over grandiose promises and hucksterism." (bit.ly/11PhZZR)Texans who approved CPRIT voted to spend money on potentially life-saving research, not to provide a lucrative cookie jar for those who knew how to get their hands into it.Nelson should keep demanding that answers be provided -- quickly, in detail and with transparency.