November 28, 2022

First award for embryonic stem cell trial

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has awarded US$25 million to a stem cell company for a clinical trial with embryonic stem cells. This is the first time the organisation has funded a clinical trial. The loan to Geron Corp., a California biotechnology company, will be used to support its work on hESCs to treat spinal cord injury.

The California
Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has awarded US$25 million to a stem
cell company for a clinical trial with embryonic stem cells. This is the first
time the $3 billion state agency has funded a clinical trial. The funding for Geron Corp., a California biotechnology
company, will be used to support its work on hESCs to treat spinal cord injury.

Chairman Robert Klein described the
award
as “a landmark step for CIRM”. He framed it as a major test of
the credibility of his organisation which was created in 2004 after a
referendum which amended the state constitution. “When the people of California voted for proposition 71
they did so with the hope of seeing new therapies for disabling diseases like
Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases
and injuries. By funding this trial, CIRM is taking a major step toward making
that hope a reality.” However, the CIRM may be hedging its bets, as the award is a loan, not a grant.

The use of hESCs to treat recent spinal trauma was the first hESC trial to
be cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration. The only other one to date is
a treatment for eye disease. ~ Science Insider, May 5

Michael Cook
CIRM
stem cells