California Stem Cell Agency Awards More than $40 Million in New Research Grants, including Funds for Prostate Cancer Research


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The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine recently announced approval by the agency’s governing Board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, of $40 million in funding for researchers at 10 institutions as part of its Early Translational IV Research awards. Among the institutions included were Stanford, University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, San Diego, Human BioMolecular Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, The Gladstone Institutes, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, The Salk Institute, Numerate, Inc. and University of California, Irvine.

These new Early Translational IV Research awards focus on turning basic discoveries about stem cells into potential therapies for prostate cancer, heart and liver disease, autism, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases.

UCLA Recipient Focuses on Prostate Cancer Research

Robert Reiter, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, was awarded approximately $4 million for research to develop human antibodies that can be used to target prostate cancer cells and to stop them spreading and growing. Other grants were awarded to researchers whose work is focusing on HIV/AIDS, heart disease, Huntington’s disease, amylotropic lateral sclerosis, autism, stroke, muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, and metabolic disorders.

From Bench to Bedside

Alan Trounson, PhD, President of the stem cell agency, said “These awards are moving discoveries into the clinical pipeline for patients. 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.”

In this “early translation” phase scientists are expected to do research that will result in the development of a new potential drug or cell therapy or make significant strides toward such a therapy. The goal is to identify the most promising projects and move those good ideas out of the lab and into the clinic.

Intellectual Property Regulations

The Board also approved changes to the stem cell agency’s intellectual property regulations that will change revenue sharing provisions to smooth out the payment process for companies that have a successful product. In addition the Board voted to approve a new program designed to increase engagement between the stem cell agency and industry that will provide tens of millions of dollars in research awards to help move the most promising therapies into clinical trials.

“The goal of our work is to do whatever we can to move treatments out of the lab and into patients,” says Jonathan Thomas, PhD, JD, Chairman of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was established in November 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was overwhelmingly approved by voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research. ■



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