Tuesday, November 17, 2015

California to Nix $6.8 Million for Parkinson's Research, Flawed Proposal Cited

Directors of the California stem cell agency are scheduled to meet Thursday to reject a $6.8 million application to finance late stage research to develop a therapy for Parkinson’s Disease.

Twelve of the agency’s blue-ribbon, scientific reviewers last month voted unanimously against the proposal, declaring it was “flawed” and should not be resubmitted to the agency. Directors of the agency almost never overturn negative decisions of its reviewers.

This week’s meeting focuses unusual attention on the application. It is the only one scheduled to be considered at the meeting, which is part of the fast-track funding efforts this year by the stem cell agency. In the past, final approval or rejection of applications usually involved a number of applications. Reviewers’ decisions against funding have been rubber-stamped with no discussion. Scores on the rejected applications were not disclosed.

One of the goals of the agency’s “CIRM 2.0” effort, in addition to speeding funding, is to improve grant applications. It may well be that the agency is attempting to reinforce, via the application review summary, its message to researchers to step up the quality of their proposals for millions of dollars in taxpayer support.

The review summary found considerable fault with the rationale of the proposal. It said the data presented was “insufficient.” The dosage involved was “not clearly described.” Timelines may be “unrealistic,” the document declared.

The summary also said,

“It is not clear whether the focus of the applicant is an embryonic (ESC) or induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived product.”

“Reviewers....encouraged the (applicant) team to carefully consider feedback in any earlier stage application.”

The name of the applicant was not disclosed in keeping with the agency’s longstanding practice of withholding such information. Responding to a question, an agency spokesman said the application came from an academic institution. One Parkinson’s researcher who has been mentioned in the news in recent months, Jeanne Loring of Scripps, told the California Stem Cell Report that the application did not involve her. 

The rejection would be only the second in the CIRM 2.0 program, according to Kevin McCormack, senior director of communications for the agency. 

The public can weigh in on any subject during Thursday's meeting at teleconference sites in Beverly Hills, San Diego, South San Francisco, Napa, Irvine,, Los Gatos, Elk Grove, Redwood City, San Francisco and two in Sacramento. Specific addresses can be found on the agenda.
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1 comment:

  1. Just to be very clear- this is NOT our grant application!!

    Jeanne Loring