CIRM to award $40 million to stem cell research projects

The funds will be awarded to researchers at 10 different institutions for projects seeking to address issues such as prostate cancer, heart disease, liver disease, autism and HIV/AIDS

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LA JOLLA, Calif.—The California Institute for RegenerativeMedicine (CIRM) has announced that it will be awarding more than $40 million innew research grants. The grants will go to organizations pursuing researchagainst prostate cancer, heart disease, liver disease, autism and HIV/AIDS.
The $40 million approved by CIRM's governing board theIndependent Citizens Oversight Committee will go to researchers at 10institutions, including Stanford University, the University of California, LosAngeles, UC San Diego, Human BioMolecular Research Institute, Cedars-SinaiMedical Center, The Gladstone Institutes, Sanford-Burnham Medical ResearchInstitute, The Salk Institute, Numerate, Inc. and UC Irvine as part of itsEarly Translational IV Research awards. The awards are meant to help turn stemcell discoveries into possible therapies.
The Board has also approved changes to CIRM's intellectualproperty regulations, which will adjust revenue-sharing provisions to make thepayment process smoother for companies that have generated a viable product.The Board gave its approval to a new program as well, one meant to bolsterinteraction between CIRM and industry that will offer ten of millions ofdollars in research awards that will help promising therapies move from thelabs to clinical trials.
"The goal of our work is to do whatever we can to movetreatments out of the lab and into patients," Jonathan Thomas, Ph.D., J.D.,chairman of CIRM's governing Board, said in a press release. "This newinitiative is designed to help jump start new partnerships with industry andstrengthen our ties with the kinds of companies who will ultimately help movethese treatments through clinical trials and into patients."
The "early translation" phase calls for scientists toundertake research that will result in the development of a potential drugcandidate, or at least make considerable progress toward such an outcome.
The awards will be funding a variety of different projects.Almost $13 million will be going to four different teams at UCLA, one of whichwill be working on the development of human antibodies that can target prostatecancer cells and stop them from spreading. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai willreceive just over $5 million for research into the use of gene-modified stemcells to accelerate healing in patients with segmental bone fractures, whichcan result in a great deal of suffering, multiple surgeries and long-termhospitalization. Approximately $4 million will be awarded to a research team atUC Irvine that is working to create sheets of retinal cells, which are found inthe back of the eye and damaged by issues such as age-related maculardegeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, and use the sheets to repair suchdamage.
The other award recipients will be bending their effortstoward diseases and conditions such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, Huntington'sdisease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), autism, stroke,muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, sickle cell disease and metabolic disorders.
"These awards are moving discoveries into the clinicalpipeline for patients" Alan Trounson, Ph.D., president of CIRM, commented in astatement. "The strategies are focused on problems where we think there isa very reasonable chance that they will evolve into clinical studies fortreating some of the worst diseases we have in the community."
The CIRM was founded in November 2004 with the passage ofProposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, which provided$3 billion in funding for stem cell research in the state.
SOURCE: California Institute of Regenerative Medicine

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