Saturday, September 18, 2010

CIRM Leads National Effort to Forge 'Pathways' with FDA

California's $3 billion stem cell agency has created a broad-based, 43-member, interstate consortium of researchers and businesses to work with the FDA to develop “well-defined regulatory pathways for stem cell therapies.”

CIRM President Alan Trounson is high on the effort, which will be making another quasi-public appearance in just a few days. Last spring, Trounson told CIRM directors that he is “thrilled” with the initiative, which is spearheaded by CIRM General Counsel Elona Baum.

The next consortium program comes up on Sept. 28 – a “webinar” on preclinical considerations for stem cell therapies. The session, which requires advance registration, will feature Mercedes Serabian, chief of a key pharmacology/toxicology branch in the FDA; Robert Deans, senior vice president of Athersys, Inc., of Cleveland, Ohio, and Melissa Carpenter, a stem cell industry consultant and formerly with Geron of Menlo Park, Ca., StemCells, Inc.,of Palo Alto, Ca., and Novocell(now ViaCyte) of San Diego.

Baum has already conducted one webinar on issues on product characterization, which is now available for viewing on the CIRM Web site along with additional materials. Trounson said Baum “has been fantastic in getting the FDA along.”  Trounson told CIRM directors in April,
“If you were able to take the time to listen to these webinars, they're terrific. The information that's coming from the FDA and from the scientists is very, very helpful. And it's a learning process that's going both ways.”
The 43 members of the consortium include George Daley of Harvard, Irv Weissman of Stanford, Owen Witte of UCLA, Tom Okarma, CEO of Geron; Ed Field, president of Aldagen, Inc., of Durham, NC; John West, president of ViaCyte, Inc., of San Diego; William Caldwell of Advanced Cell Technology of Santa Monica, Ca.; Randy Mills, president of Osiris Therapeutics, Inc.,of Columbia, Md., and executives from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, iPierian of South San Francisco, Ca.; Genzyme of Cambridge, Mass., and the WiCell Research Institute of Madison, Wi., among others.

On its CIRM-based Web site, the consortium said that the stem cell field will move “faster when interested parties share best practices and resources.” The consortium said,
“This group provides a forum for members to discuss amongst themselves or with the FDA issues of importance to the industry. The RMC's mission also includes serving as a technical resource during development of guidelines and standards.”
The consortium Internet site contains a wide range of links to FDA, ISSCR and other materials. In addition to the Sept. 28 webinar, the consortium has a link to a Nov. 2 FDA workshop on cell and gene therapy trials. Sphere: Related Content

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