Thursday, October 08, 2015

From Wounds to Regulatory Speed-Up: California Conclave Examines Stem Cell Business and Research

The Grafix story
Japanese ambitions
California's Alpha Clinics

Hundreds of representatives of the world’s stem cell community are meeting today and tomorrow in California mulling over everything from pricing to the possibilities of commercial cures.

The occasion is the Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa 2015 in La Jolla, Ca., and if you are not there, it is still possible to see some of the presentations live and later on video.

Some can be dramatic, including one from Lode Debrabandere, CEO of Osiris Therapeutics of Maryland. This afternoon he pulled up a slide involving an Osiris product called Grafix, which is “a cryopreserved placental membrane that is designed for direct application to acute and chronic wounds.”

The photographs on the slide showed an open wound with an exposed tendon before and after
Osiris/Meeting on Mesa graphic
treatment. Debrabandere said the Grafix treatment led to closure of the wound in five months. He said the patient "is walking around and still has his foot.”

Osiris is the firm once headed by Randy Mills, president of the $3 billion California stem cell agency, known officially as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine(CIRM). Mills speaks tomorrow morning to the conclave. The agency is one of the major organizers of the three-day session and contributed $50,000 to the program.  Other organizers are the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, which has received $43 million from CIRM.

The conference has received little attention in the mainstream media with the exception of the San Diego Union Tribune. The newspaper's biotech reporter, Bradley Fikes, has filed two major stories tied to the conference.

One dealt with the burgeoning number of stem cell clinical trials. The other explored the ambitious stem cell research effort in Japan. Fikes wrote,   
“In the second half of the 20th century, Japan emerged as a world leader in automobiles and consumer electronics. In the first half of this century, the country plans to do the same with stem cells and regenerative medicine.”
Fikes said the Japanese stem cell market “was estimated at $90 million in 2012, projected to reach $950 million in 2020, $10 billion by 2030 and $25 billion by 2050.”

Fikes also pointed out how the Japanese have streamlined the regulatory process, something that CIRM President Mills thinks the United States should emulate. Last week, Mills was in Washngton, D.C., talking to regulators and others, presumably advancing his case for faster action on stem cell therapies.

On the agenda tomorrow morning is a panel dealing with clinical trials at the Sanford Consortium. The effort is tied to the Alpha stem cell clinic effort at UC San Diego  (see here ), which is funded by $8 million from CIRM. The agency initiated the Alpha program, which totals $24 million, in an effort to develop  a world-leading, one-stop program for stem cell treatment.

The Mesa meeting program said, “The CIRM Alpha Stem Cell Clinic at UC San Diego provides infrastructural strength to enable the complex interaction required for success” in stem cell treatments. 

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