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CIRM to award $40 million to stem cell research projects
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


LA JOLLA, Calif.—The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has announced that it will be awarding more than $40 million in new research grants. The grants will go to organizations pursuing research against prostate cancer, heart disease, liver disease, autism and HIV/AIDS.  
The $40 million approved by CIRM's governing board the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee will go to researchers at 10 institutions, including Stanford University, the University of California, Los Angeles, UC San Diego, Human BioMolecular Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, The Gladstone Institutes, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, The Salk Institute, Numerate, Inc. and UC Irvine as part of its Early Translational IV Research awards. The awards are meant to help turn stem cell discoveries into possible therapies.  
The Board has also approved changes to CIRM's intellectual property regulations, which will adjust revenue-sharing provisions to make the payment process smoother for companies that have generated a viable product. The Board gave its approval to a new program as well, one meant to bolster interaction between CIRM and industry that will offer ten of millions of dollars in research awards that will help promising therapies move from the labs to clinical trials.
"The goal of our work is to do whatever we can to move treatments 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 new initiative is designed to help jump start new partnerships with industry and strengthen our ties with the kinds of companies who will ultimately help move these treatments through clinical trials and into patients."
The "early translation" phase calls for scientists to undertake research that will result in the development of a potential drug candidate, 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 which will be working on the development of human antibodies that can target prostate cancer cells and stop them from spreading. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai will receive just over $5 million for research into the use of gene-modified stem cells to accelerate healing in patients with segmental bone fractures, which can result in a great deal of suffering, multiple surgeries and long-term hospitalization. Approximately $4 million will be awarded to a research team at UC Irvine that is working to create sheets of retinal cells, which are found in the back of the eye and damaged by issues such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, and use the sheets to repair such damage.
The other award recipients will be bending their efforts toward diseases and conditions such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, Huntington's disease, 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 clinical pipeline for patients" Alan Trounson, Ph.D., president of CIRM, commented in a statement. "The strategies are focused on problems where we think there is a very reasonable chance that they will evolve into clinical studies for treating some of the worst diseases we have in the community."  
The CIRM was founded in November 2004 with the passage of Proposition 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
Code: E08281300



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