Monday, April 30, 2012

ACT and CIRM Together on Eye Research Webinar

Executives of Advanced Cell Technology, which has been repeatedly rejected for funding by the $3 billion California stem cell agency, will participate this week in the agency's Internet "webinar" on research involving the human eye.

ACT, which is engaged in the only hESC clinical trial in the nation, was held up earlier this month (see here and here) at an Institute of Medicine hearing as a prime example of the California's agency's failure to fund the stem cell industry in any significant way.

Gary Rabin, CEO of ACT
Nonetheless, three ACT execs are scheduled to be online for the CIRM session on Wednesday: Gary Rabin, the CEO of ACT; Matthew Vincent, director of business development, and Edmund Mickunas, vice president of regulatory affairs. The webinar will deal with regulatory issues with the FDA and clinical trials involving the eye.

Also on the panel are Samuel Barone, medical officer with the FDA, and Mark Humayun, professor of opthamology at USC, who is the PI on a $16 million macular degeneration grant from CIRM.

So what is the significance of ACT's participation in the CIRM event? If the relationship between ACT and CIRM has been touchy, this sort of cooperation is probably a good sign for both. For one, CIRM could have hardly staged the webinar without ACT, given the subject matter. But if the agency did not want to engage ACT, it could have simply done nothing about setting up a webinar in which the firm would participate.

Does this mean that ACT is going to receive a handsome grant or loan from CIRM? CIRM has established procedures (RFAs, peer review, etc.) for approval of funding, and ACT would have to go through that process unless CIRM does something very unusual.

Wednesday's event is aimed at researchers and is likely to be technical. Persons interested in taking part must register in advance.

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