Thursday, August 24, 2017

California Stem Cell Agency Pushes $23 Million into Clinical Trials for Leukemia, Bone Marrow Transplants

California's 12-year-old stem cell research program this morning popped for $23 million to help finance clinical trials to "confuse and kill" leukemia cells and to develop a better alternative to bone marrow transplants.

The two awards are part of the stem cell agency's effort to produce a widely available stem cell therapy before its money for new awards runs out in less than three years. So far, the agency, known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), has not been successful in producing such a therapy.

CIRM has now funded 35 clinical trials, which are the final stage of testing before a therapy is approved by the federal government for widespread use.  Thirty-one of the trials are still active.

Today's largest award, $18.3 million, will go to Thomas Kipps of UC San Diego. An additional Oncternal Therapeutics, also of San Diego.  Kipps is a scientific advisor to the firm. The other award, $5 million,  goes to Angiocrine Bioscience, Inc., of San Diego. The company will add $2.7 million to the effort.
Thomas Kipps, Oncternal photo
$13.3 million will be provided by

The Kipps project targets the most common form of lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) the agency said in a news release. The agency said Kipps is "using a combination strategy to kill the cancer stem cells that help CLL – and other cancers – survive traditional therapies, such as chemotherapy, and cause a relapse."

Every year, about 20,000 people nationwide are diagnosed with CLL.

The Angiocrine research is aimed at increasing the supply of cord blood for bone marrow transplants, when no matched donor is available.  Its product is called AB-110.

Maria Millan, interim CEO of the stem cell agency, said,
 "This (Phase 1) clinical trial will be the first step in determining if AB-110 is able to provide a way to improve the results of cord blood transplants."
Today's award appears to advance work previously funded by CIRM at a cost of $4 million.  Paul Finnegan was listed as the principal investigator on that work.

Angiocrine's key technology  is licensed from Weill Cornell Medical College and was invented and developed by Shahin Rafii.

The awards were approved in less than 10 minutes this morning with no discussion by the CIRM governing board, which simply ratifies the decisions of its out-of-state, grant reviewers, who considered the applications in July behind closed doors.

A summary of the reviewers' comments can be found here for Kipps' application, CLIN2 -101, and here for Angiocrine's, CLIN2-10386. Information on the Kipps trial can be found here on clinicaltrials.gov. Catriona Jamieson of UC San Diego is listed as the principal investigator on the Kipps' award.

The Angiocrine trial was not yet listed on clinicaltrials.gov at the time of this writing. Sphere: Related Content

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