|Stem cell agency summary of Peter Schultz proposal|
First in class therapy
Avoids risks, costs
Uses drug-like kartogenin
The California stem cell agency tomorrow is set to boost its spending on arthritis to $19.5 million with a new grant to a San Diego researcher who is preparing a clinical trial for his possible therapy.
|Peter Schultz -- Scripps photo|
“Because limited joints are affected in most (osteoarthritis) patients, intra-articular drug injection is an attractive treatment approach that allows high local drug concentration with limited systemic exposure. Targeting resident stem cells pharmacologically also avoids the risks and costs associated with cell-based approaches.”
“Cartilage contains resident mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that can be differentiated in vitro to form chondrocytes. This observation suggests that intra-articular injection of a small molecule that promotes chondrogenesis in vivo will preserve and regenerate cartilage in OA-affected joints. Using an image-based screen, we identified a drug-like small molecule, kartogenin (KGN), that promotes efficient and selective chondrocyte differentiation from MSCs in vitro. Intra-articular injection of KGN also shows beneficial effects in surgery-induced acute and enzyme-induced chronic cartilage injury models in rodents, as well as positive effects in incapacitance pain models.”The agency has already pumped in around $17 million for arthritis research, including funds given earlier to Schultz.
As usual, the award tomorrow involves an institution that has a representative on the agency board. About 88 percent of the money that the agency has handed out since 2005 -- $1.9 billion -- has gone to institutions that have ties to agency directors, according to calculations by the California Stem Cell Report.
(Editor's note: The figures on CIRM's total spending for arthritis have been increased from an earlier version of this story. The previous figures were based on erroneous numbers on the agency's "arthritis fact sheet," which did not include a $2.3 million award to Schultz in March.)