CIRM awards development funds to three researchers

- By Krista Conger

Three School of Medicine researchers today received a total of about $328,000 from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. In total, the institute approved 19 Disease Team Therapy Development Awards intended to allow the recipients to gather the resources to successfully apply for much larger Disease Team grants at the end of 2012.

According to an institute statement, “CIRM offers the planning awards to offset the expense of bringing the critical team of experts together to plan their approach for bringing a proposed clinical trial to the FDA or even starting trials within a four-year window. Therapy development can normally take 12 or more years, and CIRM’s funding intends to advance the most promising approaches toward and into early phase clinical trials.”

Receipt of a Disease Team Therapy Development Award is a prerequisite for those who want to apply for the Disease Team awards, which can reach $20 million.

Today’s Stanford recipients include Robert Robbins, MD, professor and chair of cardiothoracic surgery, to use cardiomyocytes derived from human embryonic stem cells to treat patients with end-stage heart failure; Judith Shizuru, MD, associate professor of medicine, to assemble a team focused on developing a monoclonal-antibody-based treatment for severe combined immunodeficiency in children; and Albert Wong, MD, professor of neurosurgery, to develop an antibody treatment targeting cancer stem cells in glioblastoma multiforme. Shizuru and Wong are members of Stanford’s Cancer Institute, and Robbins is the director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute.

Today’s awards mark the initial step in the second round of Disease Team Awards; the first round of large grants was announced in 2009. In the earlier round, Stanford researchers Alfred Lane, MD; Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD; and Irving Weissman, MD, received about $51 million to study stem cell therapies for epidermolysis bullosa, sub-cortical stroke and acute myeloid leukemia, respectively.  

According to CIRM president Alan Trounson “These planning awards continue CIRM’s record of requiring scientists to work in teams, sharing knowledge and speeding the time to new therapies,” he said. “Our first round of 14 Disease Team Awards are already generating prospective therapies that will be reaching clinical trials in the next few years.”

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2023 ISSUE 3

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