Wednesday, December 12, 2012

ViaCyte Wins Another $3 Million from California Stem Cell Agency

The California stem cell agency, which has awarded ViaCyte, Inc., $36 million, today pumped another $3 million in the firm following the collapse of an alliance between the San Diego firm and GlaxoSmithKline.

The now failed ViaCyte-Glaxo-CIRM arrangement was ballyhooed by the CIRM in October because it would have been the first deal involving Big Pharma and the stem cell agency. The resources of Big Pharma are needed to pursue the expensive path of turning stem cell research into cures.

Meeting in Los Angeles, the CIRM governing board approved the additional funds on a 13-0 vote with two abstentions.  The action came following a closed door session to discuss how the funds would be spent. No details were provided publicly on that matter.

ViaCyte has also told Biocentury that it is pursuing even more funding after the alliance with Glaxo broke down. CIRM President Alan Trounson said ViaCyte is likely to receive another $3 million from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Trounson also said that other sources are being examined as well. 

Patricia Olson, executive director of CIRM, scientific activities said the agency's advisors continue to have faith in ViaCyte's effort to develop a treatment for diabetes. The company plans to start a clinical trial on its product in 2014.

The ViaCyte-Glaxo-CIRM deal was cause for celebration last fall. Alan Trounson, CIRM's president, said the deal would “resound” globally. He told directors,
 “This is verification of our program. To have (the head of Glaxo regenerative medicine program) join us through a partnership arrangement with GSK means that a project that we've shepherded from the basic science through to the preclinical work and is heading to the clinic we're now going to do in partnership with a very major organization.”

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