Wednesday, December 11, 2013

California Stem Cell Agency: $200 Million Approved to Speed Up Stem Cell Cures

The California stem cell agency today set aside $200 million to accelerate research into early stage clinical trials over the next several years.

The plan was unanimously approved as directors considered ways to generate therapeutic results as they strive to fulfill promises made to California voters in 2004 when they approved creation of the $3 billion research effort.

Ellen Feigal, senior vice president for research and development for the agency, told directors that about 14 existing projects would be examined for acceleration with possibly up to six to eight ultimately selected. The grants review group would consider the projects, and its recommendations would be brought to the governing board for final approval. One key criteria would be the likelihood that the trial would demonstrate proof of concept by 2017. (See here for her presentation and full criteria for selection.)

The $200 million set aside would go for possible phase two clinical trials. Some directors said more money was needed because costs generally rise. Additionally stem cell research is a new field and is likely to be more expensive than conventional research. The agency would also beef up support for the projects with more advice from external advisers and CIRM staff.

Funding for the agency is set to expire in 2017, and the agency is seeking results that will support a drive to raise additional cash.

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