Monday, February 01, 2010

CIRM Delays Action on Clinical Trials, Biotech Loan Changes

The California stem cell agency today said its directors would put off until their March meeting a discussion of a proposed foray into financing of clinical trials.

CIRM also said that directors would not vote this week on changes in its $500 million biotech loan program. Instead they are expected to act later on the proposal during a special telephonic meeting.

Both topics are on the agenda for this week's meeting in San Francisco, which begins on Wednesday and continues on Thursday.

In an email, Don Gibbons, CIRM's chief communications officer, said, “Chill on the (agenda) documents. The clinical RFA discussion is being put off until the March board meeting and the loan program vote will be at a special telephonic board meeting after everyone has had a chance to review the minor changes made by the finance subcommittee. Both these agenda alterations have been in the works for a few days, I just needed to verify them.”

Earlier posts (here and here) on the California Stem Cell Report have noted that CIRM had not posted an explanation of or a justification for the loan changes. CIRM also has not laid out just what is being proposed in the clinical trial venture. All of which makes it quite difficult for researchers, biotech businesses and the public to offer any sort of well-considered comment prior to board action.

The proposed loan guidelines, however, were posted today, but still missing is an explanation of why they are needed or exactly how the changes departed from the original plan.

Also posted today, under the topic of membership of a directors Scientific Issues Subcommittee, was a 12-page report on the prescreening process in use at the agency for some grant rounds. The report included a survey of 117 applicants.

The report said, in part, that “the results suggest that applicants, PreApp (preapplication) reviewers and GWG (the scientific grant review group) reviewers favor this process. The process has created an opportunity for many applicants to compete that have not previously applied to CIRM and a significant number of these have succeeded in acquiring a grant. The process allowed us to consider more proposals within a single review cycle than would have been possible using conventional review.” Sphere: Related Content

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