Monday, November 19, 2012

California Stem Cell Agency Blogs on Geron Clinical Trial

The California stem cell agency published an article online last week concerning the hESC clinical trial that Geron abandoned last year, dealing mainly with one of the participants in the program.

The piece was studiously non-committal about whether the $3 billion research program is likely to fund the trial once again, should BioTime, Inc., of Alameda, Ca., be successful in acquiring the assets of once was the first hESC clinical trial in the United States. The agency loaned Geron $25 million a few months before the company cancelled the trial.

Amy Adams, CIRM's communications manager, simply wrote,
“They (BioTime) would need to apply for a loan if they want CIRM to financially support the continued trial.”
The latest round of funding that BioTime could apply for has a deadline of Dec. 18 for letters of intent. In addition to a loan, a grant is also a possibility.

Adams focused on Katie Sharify, who was enrolled in the clinical trial shortly before Geron said it was dropping the effort for financial reasons. Adams interviewed Sharify before an audience of scientists.

Adams wrote,
“Katie told me that it would be impossible not to hope that a trial would help her, but that by the time she made the decision to participate she knew she was doing it to further science, not necessarily to further her own recovery. She told the audience, 'I was part of something that was bigger than me, and bigger than all of you.'”
Stem cell scientist Paul Knoepfler of UC Davis also wrote about the BioTime-Geron deal last week. Noting that Geron's decision a year ago left many “upset to put it mildly,” Knoepfler said the “idea of BioTime buying the Geron stem cell program is a great one that provides new hope on many levels.”

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