Sunday, July 20, 2014

Creating Critical Mass at a California Stem Cell Consortium

News about the California stem cell agency is dominated by such matters as $70 million Alpha stem cell rounds and clinical trials but other significant activities occur below that high level surface.

One such event is the creation of a state-of-the-art imaging facility at the Sanford Consortium in the San Diego, a facility that was built with the help of a $43 million award from the stem cell agency.

According to Terri Somers, a spokeswoman for the imaging facility,
“It is the only commercial location within California where these high-powered imaging modalities are available to researchers under one roof, along with pharmacology expertise and a deep reference library.”
The facility was opened last fall by Molecular Imaging, Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich. While it provides services to the stem cell researchers at the consortium, its services are also available to researchers throughout the state, both private and academic.

Edward Holmes, president of the Sanford Consortium, said in a statement,
“We believe that in vivo imaging will play a critical role in tracking the effects of stem cells, and accelerate first-of-their-kind therapies to treat and cure some of the world’s most debilitating diseases.”
The facility includes one of the world’s most powerful MRIs, a PET, SPECT, CT, ultrasound and other molecular imaging technologies. It additionally provides as access to hundreds of disease models and a decades-deep expertise in pharmacology, according to the company.

Somers said,
“These technologies have been developed and leveraged in academic settings. Some global pharmaceutical companies have embraced the technologies as well, creating core-imaging facilities. However, drug companies don’t have this capacity on all their campuses, and none are in Southern California, making access for researchers here problematic.”
With the facility at Sanford, these services are more readily available to cash-strapped biotech companies on the entire West Coast.

Backers of the stem cell agency argue that one of its benefits has been to help build the critical mass in California that is necessary to support and attract stem cell research. The addition of the Molecular Imaging Center at the Sanford Consortium appears to be part that continuum. 

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