Wednesday, July 24, 2013

$70 Million Alpha Stem Cell Clinic Project Garners Mainstream Media Attention

California's $70 million plan for a chain of “Alpha” stem cell clinics today received its first major attention from the mainstream media.

The story came in the state's largest circulation newspaper, appearing this morning on the home page of the website of Los Angeles Times.

The Alpha project would create five clinics around the state and a coordination/information center under a concept that comes before the governing board of the state's $3 billion stem cell agency at its meeting tomorrow in Burlingame, Ca. Funds could be awarded as early as a year from now. (For more information, see here and here.)

Reporter Eryn Brown quoted Natalie DeWitt, special projects officer for CIRM, as the stem cell agency is known, and Maria Millan, a CIRM medical officer. Brown wrote,
“Clinics to conduct trials of stem cell therapies have different needs than clinics designed to deliver conventional therapies, DeWitt and Millan said. They need special facilities for handling the cells safely, as well as imaging equipment to track the cells once they're delivered into a patient’s body.  Some of this infrastructure already exists, but other parts of it still need to be perfected.  Establishing clinics to house multiple trials might create the critical mass needed to get the infrastructure in place, they said....
"Additionally, they said, CIRM hopes that such collaboration would encourage stem cell companies to share information -- speeding their own work and also helping out policymakers and insurers who are trying to figure out how they'll pay for stem cell therapies in the future.”
The Times quoted the California Stem Cell Report as saying last week,
 “The Alpha clinics are aimed at creation of a sturdy foundation for the stem cell industry in California, capitalizing on the burgeoning, international lure of stem cell treatments.”
The proposal envisions Alpha stem cell clinics at major, established institutions around the state. It is possible that two could be located in the Los Angeles area at institutions such as UCLA, USC, Cedars-Sinai or the City of Hope, all of which have representatives on the stem cell agency's governing board. Other likely locations are in the San Francisco Bay area and San Diego, again at facilities such as Stanford, UC San Francisco and UC San Diego that have representation on the agency board.

Institutions competing for the grants, including businesses, will be subject to closed-door. peer review prior to final action by the full governing board.  
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