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Apr 30, 2009

CIRM Doles Out $67M in Early Translational Grants

  • The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has chalked up a plan to fund 15 grants with $67.7 million that are all focused on moving basic research toward patients. Called Early Translational grants, the money will go to 13 not-for-profit and two for-profit organizations, BioTime and Novocell. These awards are intended to enhance drug development for unmet needs or address bottlenecks in development.

    The CIRM board also reports that an additional 12 grants which were recommended are on hold and money will made available only if funds allow. They will consider those grants in June.

    The following are the recipients:

    • Scripps Research Institute ($5,945,738)
    • The Salk Institute for Biological Studies ($6,649,347)
    • Scripps Research Institute ($6,292,290)
    • Stanford University ($5,767,050)
    • University of California, Los Angeles ($5,503,069)
    • Novocell ($5,405,397)
    • University of California, San Diego ($5,165,028)
    • BioTime ($4,721,706)
    • The Parkinson’s Institute ($3,701,766)
    • University of California, Irvine ($3,599,997)
    • Burnham Institute for Medical Research ($3,562,824)
    • Scripps Research Institute ($3,118,431)
    • University of California, Davis ($2,753,559)
    • University of California, Davis ($2,753,559)
    • The J. David Gladstone Institutes ($1,327,973)

    Stanford University’s School of Medicine will use its $5.8 million to find methods to stimulate existing adult stem cells to heal damaged nerves, bone, skin, and cardiac muscle. The researchers will continue their study of a class of protein molecules called Wnts that mediate the natural response of adult stem cells to injury. They believe that clinical trials could begin in five years.

    BioTime will use its $4.7 million to generate tools that will facilitate the use of its ACTCellerate™ technology for manufacturing patient-specific therapeutic products. The CIRM funds will be used to industrialize the manufacture of purified cell types for therapeutic applications.

    ACTCellerate allows the expansion of over 140 highly purified primitive human embryonic progenitor cells (hEPCs) from hES or iPS cells, according to BioTime. The challenge of isolating the many hundreds of human cell types in a purified state still remains, though, the company points out.

    CIRM's independent reviewers, commenting on BioTime's grant application, state that the “proposal addresses an unmet need in the field, is innovative, and has sound scientific rationale. If successful, the applicant’s work would benefit the field by providing: a shared bank of standardized good manufacturing practice-produced hEPCs with methods for industrial scale-up of the lines; peptide and antibody reagents with protocols for identification and isolation of hEPCs; and reagents and protocols for differentiating hEPCs to clinically relevant cells.”



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