Saturday, June 28, 2008

Novocell First Business to Score CIRM Cash

The California stem cell agency chalked up a couple of firsts this past week.

The agency approved its first grant to a California business and its first grants for research into the area of reprogramming adult stem cells.

of San Diego, Ca., won the business grant. The amount was small -- $48,950. It went for a disease team planning effort.

Reporter Terri Somers of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote:
"Novocell's Chief Science Officer Edward Baetge will lead a team that will receive a $48,950 planning grant to chart a course for tackling diabetes. The company has shown it can coax stem cells to develop into insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. The team will seek a larger grant to purify the cells and scale up production of them so they can be moved into clinical trials."
Some of the folks at CIRM and on its board of directors had to be disappointed that more companies did not receive positive funding decisions from the Grants Working Group. Twelve companies had applied for the new cell grants and nine for the disease team grants.

Several directors have noted in the past that it is companies that most directly bring therapies to the marketplace – not academic institutions.

Coming up, however, are other rounds of grants where businesses can compete against nonprofit and academic institutions for California cash. They include the $20 million tools and technology round. CIRM received 140 letters of intent to apply for those grants, including 50 from businesses.

Earlier this year, news of successful research involving reprogramming adult stem cells triggered questions about whether CIRM could or would fund grants in that area. Prop. 71 tilts CIRM's priorities heavily towards hESC research, but it has always had the capability of funding stem cell research in whatever area it desires.

Proof that came on Thursday when CIRM's board of directors ratified decisions to fund a number applications involving reprograming.

1 comment:

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