Sunday, December 08, 2013

$98 Million for Stem Cell Therapies for Cancer, Arthritis and More

Directors of the California stem cell agency this week are expected to approve nearly $98 million in awards for early stage clinical trials for treatments of diseases ranging from sickle cell anemia to cancer.

The awards will involve the $3 billion agency's signature disease team program, which is aimed at pushing stem cell research into the marketplace.

In addition to sickle cell anemia and cancer(see here, here and here), the applications involve therapies for macular degeneration, arthritis and severe airway obstruction. Names of the applicants were withheld by the agency. The identities of successful applicants will be released following board action. Names of the rejected applicants, however, are not released by the agency. The number of business applications was also not immediately released.

The goal of the latest round in the disease team program is completion of an early phase clinical trial during the award period, which can be up to four years. Amounts of the proposed awards range from $20 million to $4.4 million. CIRM originally budgeted $100 million for this round.

Four applications won outright approval from the agency's grant reviewers. CIRM staff recommended that three out of four “tier two” grants be approved. The scientific scores of all seven of those applications range from 79 to 67 on a scale of 100.

Some of the five rejected applicants and sympathetic patient advocates may well appear at the board meeting in Los Angeles on Wednesday and Thursday to lobby for their proposals. The CIRM board can fund any of the applications, regardless of their scientific scores.

Here are links to the ample information provided by CIRM staff on the grant applications: summaries of the grant reviews, staff justification for funding tier two applications, Power Point presentations to be made to directors on the applications, including the range of scores on individual applications. However, the range of scores on the rejected applications was not provided.

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