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CIRM Gives $63 Million Boost to Stem Cell Researchers

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The heart disease project was previously funded by CIRM as a Disease Team project using the patient's own cells. The researchers have since changed their methodology, using donor cells to develop the therapy. With that in mind the board voted to fund this for phase II clinical trials following NIH funding of the phase I safety approach.

Among the other projects approved for funding are:

  • A retinitis pigmentosa research project that has moved rapidly from a CIRM translational project to one nearly ready for a Phase I/II clinical study
  • A muscular dystrophy application that was awarded funding as an Early Translation project, which focuses on proof of concept of a new therapy.
  • More than $38 million to 28 other projects as part of its Basic Biology awards program, focusing on basic research, to gain a better understanding of the different kinds of stem cells and how to work with them.
  • $6.7 million in funding for a Research Leadership Award, which help draw talented faculty members to California institutions. In this case it will bring Dennis Steindler to the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale to do research into stem cells as a treatment for Parkinson's disease and their role in disease repair and causation.

"These are excellent examples of CIRM moving projects efficiently and effectively through the translational pipeline and into clinical trials," said the organization's president, Alan Trounson, Ph.D. "We expect many other projects to evolve to first-in-human therapeutics that hopefully will deliver significant benefit to patients"

"This kind of basic research is essential to helping us answer some essential questions about stem cells," added Pat Olson, Ph.D, who serves as CIRM's Executive Director of Scientific Studies.

"The knowledge we gain from these studies will ultimately inform other work and advance our understanding of the fundamental mechanism of stem cell biology, and move us ever closer to knowing how best to use stem cells to help patients."

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