Thursday, May 23, 2013

Multimillion Dollar Carrots for Stem Cell Research in California

Directors of the California stem cell agency approved an $80 million business-friendly plan that will dangle multimillion dollar carrots before biotech firms in an effort to push therapies into the marketplace.

The upfront payment effort will allow CIRM to take part in early stage clinical trials at no risk and could generate a list of achievements that will be useful in creating support for fresh funding after CIRM's money runs out in 2017.

The proposal is the first-ever from CIRM that involves no upfront payments. Instead, recipients will have to meet agreed-upon criteria to receive either grants or loans.

A CIRM staff document said,
“The major development milestone and success criteria will be mutually agreed upon between CIRM and the applicant at the beginning of the project(s) and at a minimum will require completion of a clinical trial that shows some level of biological activity/clinical efficacy and safety. The advantage to CIRM of that CIRM funds will only be applied to projects that are successful.”
The proposal was wrapped into what the agency calls its strategic partnership plan, which also has a more conventional aspect, providing loans and grants in advance.

As part of the program, the CIRM board also today approved a $6.4 million award to Sangamo BioSciences of Richmond, Ca., to help develop a therapy for beta-thalassemia. The firm will have to match the amount of the award.

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