CIRM, the UK and Canada Award more than $250 Million to Accelerate the Pace of Bringing Stem Cell Therapies to the Clinic

Novel funding mechanism speeds the path of research

Los Angeles, Calif., October 28, 2009 – The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state stem cell agency, and two international partners awarded more than $250 million to 14 multidisciplinary teams of researchers in California, the UK and Canada to develop stem cell-based therapies for 11 diseases. The Disease Team Research Awards include approximately $8 million from the Medical Research Council, UK, and approximately $35 million from the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, Canada, to fund the international portions of the collaborations.

CIRM’s 29-member Governing Board voted to approve funding for the four-year grants, which mark the first CIRM funding explicitly expected to result in a filing with the FDA to begin a clinical trial. The Disease Team Research Awards fund research teams that include basic scientists and clinicians from both academia and industry. These collaborations speed the process of establishing clinical trials by insuring that clinically relevant issues are considered early and avoiding potential safety issues being discovered late in the process.

CIRM President Alan Trounson said the pace of the Disease Team projects stands in contrast to the decade or more that’s usually required to reach clinical trials. “Scientists have talked for years about the need to find ways to speed the pace of discovery. By encouraging applicants to form teams composed of the best researchers from around the world we think CIRM will set a new standard for how translational research should be funded,” he said.

Each team will be actively managed by CIRM and the agency’s international partners for those teams with cross-border collaborations. Decisions to move forward with the project will be made at key points in the development cycle.

“This unique partnership is another opportunity for the people of California to lead the way in this important research and advance potentially life-saving science,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “These grants will help unite some of the best scientists throughout the world, including right here in California, to find new therapies and cures for people suffering from chronic and life-debilitating diseases. I am proud California remains at the forefront of this innovative research and I look forward to the results of this international collaboration.”

"This initiative is bringing together the leading minds in cancer and stem cell research from Canada and California," said Dr. Morag Park, Scientific Director of the Institute of Cancer Research, part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Government of Canada's health research agency. "CIHR, in conjunction with Genome Canada and through the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, is proud to fund Canadian Scientists in this cross-border collaboration that will engage scientists from many disciplines, combine resources, technologies and knowledge to find more effective treatments for leukemia and solid cell tumours."

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council: “The partnerships that have been established between the UK and CIRM have brought us closer to delivering the promise of stem cell treatments for debilitating conditions. We hope these projects will accelerate treatments to early clinical trials, eventually leading to a direct benefit for people suffering from age-related macular degeneration, which up until now has been regarded as incurable and also acute myeloid leukaemia. The MRC has led the way for UK translational researchers and together with our partners at CIRM we look forward to realising the full potential of stem cell research”

Other diseases being targeted by the teams include HIV/AIDS, type 1 diabetes, damage from heart attack, sickle cell anemia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and epidermolysis bullosa, a hereditary life-threatening condition of the skin’s connective layer. The 14 awards will go to seven not-for-profit institutions and one for-profit institution. The award to the one for-profit grantee will take the form of a loan.

“CIRM’s loan program will recycle money back into future awards and leverage the voter’s commitment to the field,” said Robert Klein, Chair of the CIRM Governing Board. “In providing stem cell funding in the form of loans, CIRM is able to fund more science and make a more significant impact on the speed of bringing new stem cell-based therapies to the people of California and the world.”

Other ICOC Business

The board also voted to approve an update to CIRM’s on-going strategic plan. The current plan, approved in 2006, anticipated a slower pace of research toward potential clinical applications. The revision proposes an increased emphasis on moving safety tested candidate therapeutics to the clinic and encourages closer ties to industry and national and international collaborators to meet those goals.

Approved Disease Team projects:

(See the Disease Team media materials for more information about the funded teams.) 

Grant number

Investigator

Institution

Intl. Collaborator

Total CIRM Funding

DR1-01421

Karen Aboody

City of Hope National Medical Center

 

$18,015,429

Co-PIs:

Jana Portnow

City of Hope National Medical Center

 

Larry Couture

City of Hope National Medical Center

 

The group proposes to treat brain tumors using neural stem cells that are genetically modified to carry a tumor-killing drug.

DR1-01423

Emmanuel Baetge

Novocell, Inc

 

$19,999,937

Co-PI:

Jeffrey Bluestone

University of California, San Francisco

 

The group proposes to treat people with type 1 diabetes by implanting insulin-producing cells generated from human embryonic stem cells.

DR1-01426

Mitchel Berger

University of California, San Francisco

 

$19,162,435

Co-PIs:

Webster Cavenee

Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

 

Evan Snyder

Burnham Institute for Medical Research

 

The group proposes to treat brain tumors using neural stem cells that are genetically modified to carry a tumor-killing drug.

DR1-01430

Dennis Carson

University of California, San Diego

Canada

$19,999,826

Co-PI:

Catriona Jamieson

University of California, San Diego

 

International Partner:

John Dick

University Health Network

 

The group intends to develop six drugs – three monoclonal antibodies and three small molecules – to destroy leukemia stem cells.

DR1-01431

Irvin Chen

University of California, Los Angeles

 

$19,999,580

Co-PI:

Geoff Symonds

Calimmune, Inc

 

This group proposes to treat HIV/AIDS using an RNA interference approach to modify the patient’s blood-forming stem celis. When transplanted back, those cells will produce T cells that are resistant to HIV infection.

DR1-01444

Mark Humayun

University of Southern California

MRC

$15,904,916

Co-PIs:

David Hinton

University of Southern California

 

Dennis Clegg

University of California, Santa Barbara

 

International Partner:

Peter Coffey

University College London-Institute of Ophthalmology

 

The group intends to treat macular degeneration using transplant retinal cells derived from human embryonic stem cells.

DR1-01452

Donald Kohn

University of California, Los Angeles

 

$9,212,365

Co-PIs:

Thomas Coates

Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles

 

Victor Marder

University of California, Los Angeles

 

The group proposes to treat sickle cells disease using a gene therapy approach to modify the patient’s blood-forming stem cell so that they produce normal red blood cells.

DR1-01454

Alfred Lane

Stanford University

 

$11,709,574

Co-PIs:

Anthony Oro

Stanford University

 

Marius Wernig

Stanford University

 

The group proposes to treat the skin disease epidermolysis bullosa using genetically modified iPS cells created from the patient’s own skin cells.

DR1-01461

Eduardo Marban

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

 

$5,560,232

The group intends to repair heart tissue damaged by heart attack using stem cells taken from the patient’s own heart.

DR1-01471

Samuel Pfaff

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

 

$15,644,881

Co-PIs:

Lawrence Goldstein

University of California, San Diego

 

Don Cleveland

Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

 

The group intends to treat people with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis by implanting precursor astrocyte cells derived from human embryonic stem cells.

DR1-01477

Dennis Slamon

University of California, Los Angeles

Canada

$19,979,660

Co-PIs:

Garry Nolan

Stanford University

 

Michael Press

University of Southern California

 

International Partner:

Tak Wah Mak

University Health Network

 

The group proposes to develop drugs that destroy the cancer stem cells in solid tumors.

DR1-01480

Gary Steinberg

Stanford University

 

$20,000,000

Co-PI:

Stanley Carmichael

University of California, Los Angeles

 

The group intends to treat stroke using implanted neural stem cells derived from human embryonic stem cells.

DR1-01485

Irving Weissman

Stanford University

MRC

$19,999,996

Co-PIs:

Ravindra Majeti

Stanford University

 

Beverly Mitchell

Stanford University

 

International Partner:

Paresh Vyas

Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford University

 

The group intends to generate a monoclonal antibody that destroys leukemia stem cells.

DR1-01490

John Zaia

City of Hope National Medical Center

 

$14,583,187

Co-PIs:

Paula Cannon

University of Southern California

 

David DiGiusto

Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope

 

This group proposes to treat HIV/AiDS using a gene therapy approach to modify the patient’s blood-forming stem celis. When transplanted back, those cells will produce T cells that are resistant to HIV infection.

Total funding

$229,772,018

All CIRM funded grants to-date:

Institution

Total Grants

Funds (Requested & Awarded)

Stanford University

42

 

162,979,744

University of California, Los Angeles

32

121,991,821 

University of California, San Francisco

30

102,971,301

University of Southern California

18

68,096,825

University of California, San Diego

25

65,583,177

University of California, Irvine

22

59,757,564

University of California, Davis

15

49,088,145

Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine

1

43,000,000

City of Hope National Medical Center

7

36,730,319

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

13

35,051,452

University of California, Berkeley

10

34,626,605

Scripps Research Institute

11

27,560,249

Novocell, Inc.

4

26,281,356

Buck Institute for Age Research

4

25,429,364

Burnham Institute for Medical Research

15

23,134,219

The J. David Gladstone Institutes

13

22,633,003

University of California, Santa Cruz

9

19,383,633

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles

7

14,219,310

University of California, Merced

5

8,494,301

University of California, Santa Barbara

5

8,490,842

University of California, Riverside

4

6,055,762

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

2

5,607,118

BioTime, Inc.

1

4,721,706

The Jackson Laboratory West

1

3,841,240

The Parkinson's Institute

1

3,701,766

San Diego State University

2

3,441,860

Scripps Health

1

3,118,431

Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

3

2,473,053

California Institute of Technology

1

2,071,823

San Jose State University

1

1,733,760

California State University, Channel Islands

1

1,733,406

California State University, San Marcos

1

1,732,164

Pasadena City College

1

1,727,991

San Francisco State University

1

1,713,558

Humboldt State University

1

1,616,363

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

1

1,436,797

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

1

1,396,509

California State University, Long Beach

1

1,337,700

California State University, Sacramento

1

1,321,440

VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc.

1

971,558

Gamma Medica-Ideas, Inc.

1

949,748

Vala Sciences, Inc.

1

906,629

Invitrogen Corporation

1

869,262

Fluidigm Corporation

1

749,520

Human BioMolecular Research Institute

1

714,654

Childrens Hospital Oakland Research Institute

1

55,000

Grand Total

321

$1,011,502,048

About CIRM
CIRM was established in November, 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was overwhelmingly approved by voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research opportunities. For more information, please visit www.cirm.ca.gov.

The Cancer Stem Cell Consortium
The Cancer Stem Cell Consortium is a not-for-profit corporation that was incorporated in 2007 to coordinate an international strategy for cancer stem cell research and related translational activities. The strategy will allow the biomedical community to move quickly and effectively from discoveries to application in the clinic; establish partnerships among organizations from Canada, California and other jurisdictions to accelerate and synergize research and translation opportunities related to cancer stem cells; and secure investments from governments, private foundations and the private sector for sustained and stable research funding. Current Consortium members include: the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Genome Canada, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the National Research Council Canada, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the Stem Cell Network.

About the MRC
The Medical Research Council supports the best scientific research to improve human health. Its work ranges from molecular level science to public health medicine and has led to pioneering discoveries in our understanding of the human body and the diseases which affect us all. MRC is the UK’s major funder of stem cell research and has a key role in delivering Government’s expectations in this area. www.mrc.ac.uk

Contacts
CIRM    
Don Gibbons
415-396-9117
415-740-5855 (mobile)
or
Ellen Rose
650 387-8746
erose@cirm.ca.gov

CCRC
David  Coulombe
613-941-4563
cell: 613-808-7526
david.coulombe@cihr-irsc.gc.ca

MRC
Grace Money
0207 670 5139
GRACE.MONEY@HEADOFFICE.MRC.AC.UK

© 2013 California Institute for Regenerative Medicine