Thursday, April 23, 2009

Translational Grant Reviews Now Available From CIRM

The California stem cell agency has posted the reviews of grant applications for $60 million for early translational research that will be awarded at next week's meeting of CIRM's board of directors in Los Angeles.

Ten grants are scheduled to be approved by directors. However, grant reviewers have given the okay to 15 totaling about $68 million. If the directors want to stay within their original budget, they will have to take the rare step of rejecting a positive decision on grants by reviewers.

The grants that have won reviewer approval include proposals dealing with cartilage regeneration and osteoarthritis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and macular degeneration. You can find the reviews here along with their scores.

The names of the applicants have been withheld by CIRM, but the identities of some may be discerned from the reviews by persons familiar with stem cell research.

Also now available on the directors' agenda is a side-by-side comparison of two federal bills dealing with biosimiliars, which are copies of the original biotechnological drugs following the expiration of patent protection. Directors are expected to be asked to take a position on the measures, but they will first be discussed Monday morning by the Legislative Subcommittee.

One of the bills, HR 1548, by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, is supported by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which opposes a rival bill, HR 1427 by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles. It would be interesting to know whether CIRM's $240,000, federal lobbyist, the Podesta Group, is lobbying for or against either one of the bills.

With three business days remaining before the directors meeting, CIRM has not posted any background material on its possible position on the proposed NIH rules on hESC research and several other items. They include the monitoring of CIRM grantees, the agency's statewide education program and evaluation procedures for the chair, vice chair and president.

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