Tuesday, May 28, 2019

No. 54: Counting California Stem Cell Agency's Clinical Trials, This One for Diabetes

The California stem cell agency has awarded $11 million to help treat type one diabetes, an affliction that affects 1.25 million persons nationally.

The award brings to $194.6 million the amount given to UC San Francisco (UCSF) since 2005 by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the agency is formally known. 

UCSF has held a seat on the governing board of the $3 billion agency since it was created by voters in 2004. About 90 percent of its funding has gone to institutions with ties to board members. They are not allowed to vote on awards involving their institutions, but the board can create or eliminate funding programs. 

The $11 million phase one clinical trial award last week went to Peter Stock of UCSF and was his first for a trial from the agencyIt is the 54th investment by the agency in a clinical trial. CIRM said in a news release:
"Transplantation of beta cells, contained in donor pancreatic islets, can reverse the symptoms of diabetes. However, due to a poor islet survival rate, transplants require islets from multiple donors. Furthermore, since islet cells are transplanted directly into the vessels that enter the liver, it is extremely difficult to monitor and retrieve these cells should the need arise.

"Dr. Stock’s clinical trial at UCSF aims to address these limitations. The trial will be using parathyroid glands to aid in the success and viability of the transplant procedure."
CIRM's review of Stock's application (CLIN2-11437) noted that questions had been raised about commercialization of his research. It said, 
"If efficacious, the proposed therapy could lead to US regulatory approval for islet transplantation and clear the commercialization path for this and future diabetes treatments in a field that needs innovation. Overall, the enthusiasm from clinical experts for the potential of a new approach outweighed commercialization concerns and the panel recommended the application for funding."
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