Friday, April 06, 2007

CHA RMI Statement on CIRM Grant

Text of the CHA RMI Statement:

March 24, 2007

Statement CHA Regenerative Medicine Institute

CHA Regenerative Medicine Institute is a non-profit organization
incorporated in California on Dec. 21, 2005 and has been engaged in
adult and embryonic stem cell research at its Los Angeles laboratory.

CHA RMI's mission is to develop regenerative cell and gene therapies for
the treatment and cure of human diseases. CHA RMI focuses its research
on advancing therapeutic cloning technology to create patient-specific
stem cells using fresh and frozen human eggs.

CHA RMI is able to bring to California patented vitrification technology
first developed at CHA BIOTECH and other advanced proprietary stem cell
technologies, which would otherwise not be available in the state,
because of its association with CHA Stem Cell Institute. All of CHA
RMI's facilities and research staff are located in California and all of
its work will be done in the state.

CHA RMI's research scientists are presently focused on:
* Production of embryonic stem cell lines from somatic cell
nuclear transfer- embryos
* Establishment of embryonic stem cells from donated eggs
* Differentiation of embryonic stem cells into specific cell
* Investigation of adult stem cells for diabetes

CHA RMI's articles of incorporation state that it is organized under the
Nonprofit Public Benefit Law for charitable purposes and is not
organized for the private gain of any person. The articles further state
that the property of this corporation is irrevocably dedicated to
charitable purposes and no part of the net income or assets of this
corporation shall every inure to the benefit of any director, officer or
member thereof or to the benefit of any private person.

CHA RMI is associated with CHA BIOTECH, a leading stem cell research
institute in Korea, established in September 2000 by Pochon CHA
University College of Medicine and CHA General Hospital Group in order
to create a central, multidisciplinary research facility where the
university's scientists and hospital physicians could come together and
focus their efforts on developing stem cell, gene therapy and
regenerative medicine technology.

CHA BIOTECH, however, does not have any ownership interest in CHA RMI
nor does it have any voting rights on the Board. None of the member
companies belonging to CHA Health Systems have any ownership interest in
CHA RMI and none of the companies have any voting rights on CHA RMI's

Dr. Kwang Yul Cha, Chancellor of Pochon CHA University College of
Medicine, was listed as the initial chief executive and a member of the
Board of CHA RMI during the time when the non-profit laboratory was
being established. He has since resigned from these positions according
to the reorganization plan that was intended from the inception of the
institute. Dr. Cha does not hold any administrative or managerial title

Dr. Cha is an internationally known fertility specialist with more than
100 articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He received
his medical degree from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, and performed
his postdoctoral fellowship in endocrinology and infertility at the
University of Southern California. He also served as a visiting
professor at Columbia University

Dr. Cha succeeded with Korea's first Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer,
Asia's first pregnancy in a woman without ovaries and the world's first
pregnancy from in vitro culture of immature oocytes collected from
unstimulated ovaries.

His research has received awards from the American Society for
Reproductive Medicine and the International Federation of Fertility
Societies. His research accomplishments have been featured in stories by
Time magazine, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Since its establishment in December 2005, CHA RMI has received approval
from the Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) to conduct embryonic
stem cell research using frozen human eggs. This approval makes CHA RMI
the first research institute in the world to receive permission to
conduct stem cell research using frozen human eggs.

On March 16th, 2007, CHA RMI was awarded a $2,556,066 grant from the
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to conduct
research in the "Establishment Of Stem Cell Lines From Somatic Cell
Nuclear Transfer-Embryos in Humans." The purpose of the research is to
provide a novel resource to the biomedical research community to study
and understand how genes correlate with the development of diseases such
as Amyotrophic Lateral Scelerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's

CIRM's President and Chief Scientific Officer Zach W. Hall, Ph.D.,
stated: "These grants provide substantial support to a pool of very
distinguished researchers in human embryonic stem cell research." He
added that because of the size of the grants, "Our reviewers had higher
expectations and more rigorous standards for judging this set of

In its review of the "impact and significance" of the proposed research,
CIRM wrote: "As no ALS embryonic stem cells are currently available, the
isolation and characterization of such a diseased line will not only
provide the beginning of a proof of concept for this technology, but
more importantly will establish a realistic platform to study the
molecular basis of ALS, a devastating disease which remains incurable.
The other main significance of this work is the use of frozen oocytes
instead of fresh oocytes, which alleviates a number of ethical issues
regarding payments for donations to patients. This should not be
underestimated, as this simple fact is one of the major limitations of
SCNT approaches."

The principal investigator of the CIRM sponsored research is Jang-Won
Lee, Ph.D., who received his doctoral degree in animal science from the
University of Connecticut. Dr. Lee had been a research fellow at Wake
Forest Institute Regenerative Medicine, Winston Salem, NC and at
Children's Hospital & Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Before
assuming his post at CHA RMI, Dr. Lee holds an assistant professor
position at Pochon CHA University College of Medicine.

A full copy of the CIRM review can be found at:
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