October 2014 Newsletter
CIRM October Newsletter
- CIRM Awards $16 Million to Advance Promising Type 1 Diabetes Therapy
- UCSD Team Launches CIRM-Funded Trial to Test Safety of New Leukemia Drug
- October 8th is Stem Cell Awareness Day!
- President Mills Announces Plans to Launch CIRM 2.0
- Video: Spotlight on Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Webinar: Regulatory Challenges in the Use of iPS Cells
- The Latest Publications by CIRM-funded Researchers
- Upcoming CIRM Events
- CIRM Funding Opportunities
At its September 10th meeting, the CIRM governing Board awarded ViaCyte, Inc. $16 million as part of the Accelerated Development Pathway program to help advance the company's promising, embryonic stem-cell based type 1 diabetes therapy. ViaCyte has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin clinical trials of its product candidate, VC-01™, a thin plastic pouch that contains an immature form of pancreatic cells. When the device is implanted under the skin the cells are able to sense when blood sugar is high and, in response, secrete insulin to restore it to a healthy level. This new funding will enable ViaCyte to do additional functional studies on the device, and to follow patients for three years after the study ends.
In recent years, scientists have observed that a small fraction of cancer cells have stem cell-like properties that elude conventional treatments, allowing the cancer to spread throughout the body. In September, a team from the UCSD Moore Cancer Center announced that they’ve launched a CIRM-funded clinical trial that will test a candidate therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The protein used in the treatment is designed to seek out and block growth of those few cancer cells that slip through the grasp of conventional anti-cancer drugs and therapy. This initial trial will test safety in a small cohort of CLL patients.
Wednesday, October 8th, marks Stem Cell Awareness Day this year. The day is a unique global opportunity to foster greater understanding about stem cell research and the range of potential applications for disease and injury. For the millions of people around the world who suffer from incurable diseases and injury, Stem Cell Awareness Day is a day to celebrate the scientific advances made to-date and be hopeful of what is yet to come. Research and academic institutions and educators are encouraged to participate by hosting public talks and other activities and events in their community. In particular, we encourage efforts to get stem cell researchers into high school classrooms that day.
- View a list of Stem Cell Awareness Day events
At the September governing Board meeting, President and CEO C. Randal Mills unveiled his plans to launch CIRM 2.0, giving the agency a new focus on the best ways to achieve its mission, and new tools to enable it to do that. As part of that new focus he told the Board about a proposal to speed up the agency’s funding process, to enable it to more nimbly respond to the needs of researchers with projects ready to go to clinical trials. The first phase of CIRM 2.0 is expected to be launched January 1, 2015.
At its September 10th meeting, the CIRM governing Board heard from Rachel Bonner, a sixteen-year-old high school student and founder of the Hope for Crohn’s charity, about what it’s like living with inflammatory bowel disease. The Board also heard from Dr. Ophir Klein, a CIRM grantee and UCSF researcher, who detailed his lab’s work to understand how stem cells regulate the healing of the intestine and to eventually find cures for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
On September 11th, CIRM hosted a webinar on the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) as tools for disease modeling, target identification, or toxicity assessment, or as a cell therapy intervention. Speakers covered preclinical and manufacturing regulatory challenges in moving an iPSC forward as a cell therapy and the challenges along the regulatory pathway in the use of iPSCs as tools.
CIRM grantees are making steady progress on understanding the fundamentals of stem cell biology and moving stem cell-based therapies toward clinical trials. Here are examples of CIRM-funded research that was published in September along with press releases from the grantees' home institutions and entries from the Stem Cellar, CIRM's official blog:
September 7th - Nature Medicine
- Sanford Burnham Blog: Researchers discover a key to making new muscles
- CIRM Blog: CIRM-Funded Scientists Test Recipe for Building New Muscles
September 17th - Magnetic Resonance in Medicine
- UCSD Release: A Better Way to Track Emerging Cell Therapies Using MRIs
- CIRM Blog: New Cellular Tracking Device Tests Ability of Cell-Based Therapies to Reach Intended Destination
October 7th-8th: CIRM Grantees present at Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa Investor & Partnering Forum.
CIRM is proud to have 12 of its Grantees presenting at the Investor and Partnering Forum at the Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa (SCMOM) sponsored by the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine. The 4th Annual Partnering Forum at SCMOM includes companies who are conducting 100+ clinical trials with an additional 25+ products already on the market. With 10+ hours of presentations over the course of two days, this meeting provides attendees a unique opportunity to forge collaborations with regenerative medicine’s top industry leaders. For more information about SCMOM please visit: http://stemcellmeetingonthemesa.com/partnering-forum/
Oct 23rd: The CIRM governing Board will hold its next meeting at the Sheraton Gateway in Los Angeles, CA. The agenda and details will be posted to the meetings page 10 days before the event.
Nov 1st: 11am-4pm: Bay Area Science Festival - Discovery Days at AT&T Park
Bring the family to AT&T Park for some hands-on science fun at the Bay Area Science Festival. Last year more than 30,000 people enjoyed the 150+ interactive exhibits. CIRM's booth will have some stem cell-related activities for the kiddos and our staff will be on hand to answer any questions about the agency and stem cell research.
PA 08-06: CIRM Conference Grants - Applications for conference grants will be accepted, reviewed and approved periodically