university of southern california

Advanced Cell Technology has filed an application with the FDA to begin an early phase trial of an embryonic stem cell-based therapy for macular degeneration. If the company name sounds familiar, that's because it's the same company that on November 22 received FDA approval to begin a trial for Stargardt's macular degeneration. Both trials are testing the same cells. In a press release, the company said:

The FDA has given the green light to the second trial based on embryonic stem cells - this one for a genetic form of blindness called Stargardt's Macular Degeneration. The treatment, developed by Advanced Cell Technology, involves replacing the the layer of the retina damaged by the disease, called the retinal pigment epithelium, with new RPE cells derived from embryonic stem cells.

A story by Nick Wade in Monday's New York Times rubbed some scientists the wrong way - and I must admit the piece was not too popular around CIRM headquarters.

Wade equated research funding with picking stocks. His idea is that a broad portfolio is bound to include some winners (he attributes this approach to the NIH and NSF) whereas attempts to only buy the big winners can produce a risky portfolio (an approach he attributes to CIRM).