Tuesday, November 12, 2013

San Diego Union Tribune on CIRM's progress to-date

Over the weekend Bradley Fikes at the San Diego Union Tribune wrote a good overview about CIRM's progress in the nine years since November 2004, when voters first approved Proposition 71 and created the agency.

He summed up our current funding status (these numbers are also on the funding commitments page of our website):
About $1.87 billion in grants have been approved by the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, which governs the San Francisco-based agency. Of that amount, about $1.59 billion has been allocated after staff review. And $1.19 billion has actually been paid out. 
As he correctly points out, most of that funding has so far gone to researchers trying to better understand the nature of stem cells--information that is needed if we are going to put those cells to work treating disease (here's the complete list of awards).

In recent years, that early research has paid off in the form of therapies being tested in clinical trials. Right now, nine clinical trials underway are either being directly funded by CIRM (for heart disease and HIV/AIDS) or came out of work we funded. Here's his list:

CIRM-assisted clinical trials in progress
Company or researcher Disease Nature of CIRM assistance
Capricor Cardiovascular Direct grant for trial
Calimmune HIV Direct grant for trial
Victoria Wheelock/ UC Davis Huntington’s disease Direct grant for trial
Catriona Jamieson/ UCSD Myelofibrosis Earlier research grant
Catriona Jamieson/ UCSD Polycythemia vera Earlier research grant
Catriona Jamieson/ UCSD Leukemia Earlier research grant
Joel Gottesfeld/TSRI Ataxia Earlier research grant
Antonio Ribas/UCLA Metastatic melanoma Earlier research grant

Fikes went on to quote Lawrence Goldstein, who directs UCSD's stem cell program, talking about the pace of research:
“If you’re someone who has a terrible disease, you want a therapy — right now,” Goldstein said. “Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. It takes time and energy to get from good idea to proof of concept, to clinical trials, to the actual therapy that works.”

“From my vantage point, what I’ve seen are a few early successes, where drugs based on stem cell technology from, for example, (Sandra Dillon’s physician) Catriona Jamieson, have made it into clinical trials. That’s an early win.”
The full story has more about the agency and our plans for the future.

Amy Adams

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