CIRM allocates $25 million to overcome immune rejection of stem cell transplantation therapies

San Diego, Calif., June 22, 2010 – The Governing Board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state stem cell agency created by proposition 71, today approved $25 million to fund 19 projects intended to overcome immune rejection of transplanted stem cells.

Transplanting cells derived from stem cells to replace lost or damaged tissue is one of the great promises of stem cell research. However, the possibility exists that those cells could be rejected by the immune system much like a transplanted organ. The projects funded by these awards will develop strategies for overcoming rejection, eliminating potential barriers to moving stem cell therapies to the clinic. Breakthroughs developed in these research projects could also benefit the entire transplantation field.

“In writing proposition 71, we anticipated the need to overcome the immune response in order to fulfill one of the ultimate promises of regenerative medicine, replacing or repairing tissues with stem cells,” said Robert Klein, chair of the CIRM Governing Board. “With these awards, CIRM-funded scientists will be advancing the critical medical technologies that are essential to prevent the immune system from rejecting life-saving transplants. If successful, these experiments will place California researchers in a world leadership position on solutions to prevent immune system rejection of cellular therapies. These projects give great hope to patients and families of people with chronic disease, who look to stem cell research as their best hope for a cure.”

CIRM President Alan Trounson who pioneered the integration of immunology and stem cells at Monash University in Victoria, Australia, has actively encouraged a focus for research on the development of strategies that could complement the stem cell transplantation therapies. “With these innovative immune transplantation focused awards we will be making major strides toward eliminating the potential barrier of rejection and dangerous immune suppression that slows the application of stem cell therapies for the benefit of the people of California and the world,” he said.

Two of the awards include a collaboration with partners at Monash University whose portion of the award will be funded by the Australian state of Victoria. The Victorian government has committed $1.2 million toward funding these projects.

Other ICOC Business

The board also approved the concept proposal for the Basic Biology III Awards. These awards will follow the Basic Biology I and II awards, which provided a combined total of $38 million to fund 28 projects making stem cell discoveries that lay the foundation for future therapies. The Basic Biology III RFA is expected to be released in August, 2010.

At the meeting, Chief Operating Officer John Robson updated board members about CIRM’s financial position, and projected the budget through a final round of funding projected to take place in either 2014 or 2017, depending on how aggressively the board funds new projects.

Stem Cell Transplantation Immunology Awards

Application Number PI Name Institution Approved Funding
RM1-01725 Robert Negrin Stanford University $1,427,980
RM1-01730 David Raulet University of California, Berkeley $958,808
RM1-01703 Jeffrey Bluestone University of California, San Francisco $1,152,768
RM1-01702 Mark Anderson University of California, San Francisco $1,314,090
RM1-01720 Martin Marsala University of California, San Diego $1,387,800
RM1-01729 Anjana Rao La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology $1,503,998
Kenneth Weinberg
Australian Partner
Claude C. Bernard
Stanford University

Monash University

RM1-01735 Terrence Town Cedars-Sinai Medical Center $1,472,634
RM1-01706 Christopher Contag Stanford University $1,447,956
RM1-01711  Basil Hantash Escape Therapeutics, Inc   $1,453,040
 RM1-01707  Gay Crooks University of California, Los Angeles  $1,357,398
 Nicholas Gascoigne Scripps Research Institute  $1,746,684
 RM1-01732  Ellen Robey University of California, Berkeley  $1,079,393
 RM1-01718  Tippi MacKenzie University of California, San Francisco  $1,324,229
 RM1-01724 William Murphy University of California, Davis  $1,317,569
 RM1-01743  Yang Xu University of California, San Diego  $1,193,292
 RM1-01717 Jeanne Loring
Australian Partner
Ban-Hock Toh

Scripps Research Institute

Monash University

Husein Hadeiba Palo Alto Institute for Research and Education, Inc.  $885,475
 RM1-01733  Judith Shizuru Stanford University  $1,403,557

For a list of all institutions funded by CIRM with funding levels, please visit:
For a list of all funded CIRM grants, please visit: /grants

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. To date, the CIRM governing board has approved 364 research, training and facility grants totaling more than $1 billion, making CIRM the largest source of funding for human embryonic stem cell research in the world. Estimates suggest that these grants already awarded will generate tens of thousands of job-years of employment in the state.