Wednesday, September 05, 2012

StemCells, Inc., Wins Another $20 Million From California Stem Cell Agency

Following a second impassioned pitch by its former chairman, Robert Klein, the governing board of the California stem cell agency approved a $20 million award to a financially strapped biotech firm, StemCells, Inc., of Newark, Ca.

Approval came on a 7-5 vote with the condition that the company demonstrate it has access to $20 million in matching funds prior to funding.  It is the second $20 million award that the company has received in the disease team round, which now totals $214 million. Another disease team application has been tabled and will not be considered until October.

The current CIRM chairman, J.T. Thomas, a Los Angeles bond financier, asked for the financial proof because he said some concerns were expressed during an executive session that CIRM would now "account for such a large part of the assets of the company." Martin McGlynn, CEO of StemCells, Inc., also told the board that the company might have to drop its Alzheimer's research if it did not receive the CIRM award.

The StemCells, Inc., application was rejected twice by reviewers. The original rejection came before the July meeting at which Klein first appeared (see here and here). The proposal was then sent back for re-review, during which it was rejected again.

However, the 29-member board narrowly approved the application following discussion tonight and following its rejection of another Alzheimer's research proposal from USC. Both applicants produced a number of witnesses, including patients, on behalf of their appeals.

The re-review on the StemCells, Inc., application said in reference to a statement by Klein to board in July,
“The reviewers did not feel there was compelling data for neuron migration in the submitted manuscript. This is the manuscript specifically referenced at the ICOC (CIRM governing board) meeting (in July) that prompted the call for additional analysis. The manuscript is not yet accepted, it is 'potentially acceptable' but requires 'major revisions' according to the journal editor note. In addition, however, the studies in this manuscript used mouse NSCs, not the human NSCs proposed for the disease team award....”
In July, Klein said, “....(W)e have brand-new data that demonstrates and totally contradicts the key weakness on which it was downgraded.” 

A footnote: The CIRM staff said that as a result of two StemCells application, a proposal is being prepared to limit applications to one per entity in later rounds.



  2. Anonymous4:57 AM

    Congrat's StemCell ! Your research for Spinal Injury and Alzheimer's disease Will allow for a new beginning for so many people.

  3. California Stem Cell Report7:27 AM

    Re Ms. Allinquant's comment, the CIRM board approved the award -- with conditions -- to StemCells, Inc., despite it being rejected twice by the agency's grant reviewers.


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