Tag Archives: CIRM

Parkinson’s Disease Research – Ask the Stem Cell Expert, Dr. Xianmin Zeng

Dr. Xianmin Zeng, associate professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging answers your questions about Parkinson’s disease and stem cell research. Zeng has a CIRM research grant to develop a stem cell treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, which leads to tremors, slowness in movement, impaired balance, and stiffness. There is no cure for Parkinson’s. And although drugs can help reduce symptoms, they eventually lose their effectiveness. Zeng has developed methods for transforming those stem cells into dopamine-producing nerve cells, the same cells that are lost in Parkinson’s disease. The hope is that by transplanting these cells into the brain, they will replace the lost cells and restore function in the brain.

For more information about CIRM-funded stem cell research related to Parkinson’s research, see fact sheet.

Alzheimer’s Stem Cell Research: Ask the Expert – Larry Goldstein, UCSD

In this first installment of CIRM TV’s “Ask the Expert” video series, Larry Goldstein of the University of California, San Diego answers questions about finding stem cell based therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. Readers of CIRM’s Facebook, Twitter, and research blog sent in the questions over the past few weeks. Dr. Goldstein is a CIRM grantee and director of the UC San Diego stem cell program.

For more information about CIRM-funded Alzheimer’s research, visit our fact sheet at: http://www.cirm.ca.gov/Alzheimers_Disease_Facts

To learn more about the efforts of California’s Stem Cell Agency to accelerate the development of new therapies for chronic disease and injury, visit our home page at: http://www.cirm.ca.gov

HIV/AIDS: Progress and Promise in Stem Cell Research

CIRM has funded two HIV/AIDS Disease Teams led by scientists at UCLA and the City of Hope who are focused on stem cell transplant strategies that promise a long lasting resistance to HIV. Antiretroviral therapy provides life-saving medicine to HIV-infected people but it is not a cure. Long-term exposure to the drugs and the virus itself shorten a person’s life, even if they don’t develop AIDS. Both disease teams have a goal of getting to clinical trials within four years. For more info, go to: www.cirm.ca.gov/HIV/AIDS_facts

Stem Cell Banking: The Perspective of an iPS Donor Family

“Your twin daughters have an extremely rare, fatal disease called Niemann Pick Type C and there’s nothing you can do for them”. Those were the devastating words that Chris Hempel and her husband first heard in 2007. Rather than just give in to this fate, the Hempels are proactively engaging researchers to try to save Addi and Cassi’s lives. This journey includes donating skin samples to cell banks so that researchers can create induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, a promising technology which may help undercover treatments for their daughters. In this video, Chris Hempel speaks to the CIRM Standards Working Group to present a patient advocate’s perspective on the challenges of rare disease research. Hempel was introduced by CIRM Governing Board member, Sherry Lansing.

For more information about the Hempels and Niemann Pick Type C, visit: http://addiandcassi.com/

Cardiovascular Therapies: Spotlight on Stem Cell Research

“Welcoming Remarks” (Part 1 of a 4-part series)

Robert Klein, J.D. and Claire Pomeroy, M.D., M.B.A., gave the welcoming remarks for the “Spotlight on Cardiovascular Therapies,” an educational event presented at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Governing Board meeting on March 10, 2011 in Burlingame, CA.

Klein is Chair of the CIRM Governing Board. Pomeroy is Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences at UC Davis and Dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine.

The entire series can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/CIRMTV

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state stem cell agency, funds adult and embryonic stem cell research at institutions and for-profit organizations in California. These funds are accelerating a field of research that holds the possibility of bringing new therapies for debilitating diseases.

Feds ease restrictions on use of stem cells

By Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post

From SFGate.com

Hundreds of embryonic stem cell lines, whose use in the United States had been curtailed by the Bush administration, can be used to study disorders and develop cures if researchers can show the cells were derived using ethical procedures, according to new rules issued by the federal government Monday.

President Obama had promised during last year’s campaign to ease restrictions on the use of stem cells in research, and has cited the promise of stem cells in finding cures for disorders that have so far proved intractable.

The use of embryonic stem cells was not prohibited under the Bush administration, but federal funds were limited to a very small number of stem cell lines, which choked off most research. The new guidelines, issued by the National Institutes of Health, permit federal funding for research using many of the approximately 700 embryonic stem cell lines that are believed to be in existence.

In a move that drew praise from advocates of stem cell research and bitter criticism from opponents, the NIH said it will allow the use of any existing stem cell line that followed broad ethical principles. Acting NIH Director Raynard Kington said an NIH committee including scientists, ethicists and advocates will evaluate older stem cell lines to assess how each was derived.

He said all embryonic stem cell lines that qualified for federal funding would have to meet a series of ethical requirements: The embryo that was destroyed to create a stem cell line must have been discarded by couples following an in vitro fertilization procedure, and the donors must have been informed that the embryo would be destroyed for stem cell research and made fully cognizant of their choices, including donating the embryo to another couple who want a baby. No donors could have been paid for an embryo, and no threats or inducements could have been used to nudge couples toward donating an embryo.

Kington said the NIH would set up a Web site that would list all the approved stem cell lines.

Almost all of the stem cell lines developed in California are expected to meet the NIH ethics guidelines, said Geoffrey Lomax, senior officer for medical and ethical standards with the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The institute was created by a voter initiative in 2004 to support stem cell research.

Lomax said the registry should be a boon to researchers in California by making it easier to use stem cell lines from other states. Previously, scientists would have spent valuable time and money determining whether an out-of-state line met California ethical criteria before they could begin their research. With a national database, they can skip that first step, Lomax said.

“This (registry) will speed things up a bit,” Lomax said. “It creates a level of standardization that is extraordinarily helpful and it removes a lot of uncertainty.”

The use of stem cells in research has become the subject of bitter national controversy, with advocates suggesting it is immoral for the federal government not to fund research that could save thousands of lives, and with opponents arguing it is immoral to fund research that involves destroying embryos.

Chronicle staff writer Erin Allday contributed to this report.

California Stem Cell Chief Seeks Trials in Four Years

By Rob Waters, Bloombeg.com

California’s $3 billion stem-cell funding agency wants to get 10 to 12 new therapies into human testing within four years, said the agency’s president, Alan Trounson.

In December, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine plans to award grants of about $20 million each to 10 or 12 teams, with the goal of starting clinical trials within four years, Trounson said today in an interview. Most or all of the teams will include biotechnology companies, he said.

The San Francisco-based institute, established by voters in 2004, is putting greater emphasis on advancing research from laboratory testing to patient trials, said Trounson. After years of stem cell research being conducted largely by academics, companies are deepening their investment in the field, he said. The agency eventually would like to draw in big pharmaceutical companies to help fund the research.

“Pharma is moving into this space in a big way,” Trounson said. “They’re now generally interested in cell therapy. That’s a big change.”

Trounson, a former academic and biotechnology executive who assumed leadership of the institute in January 2008, said he is talking to companies on a regular basis about setting up partnerships.

While the agency now funds some small companies to advance promising stem-cell therapies, Trounson said he is looking for ways to attract investment by larger companies to develop treatments. In the long run, the agency may try to use industry funding to continue operating once its $3 billion in state bond revenue is exhausted by the end of the next decade, he said.

Grants to Companies, Academics
In April, the agency awarded 15 “early translational” grants totaling $67.7 million. Two of the grants totaling $11.1 million went to companies. Most of the $761 million the institute has given out so far have gone to academic institutions such as Stanford University, the Scripps Institute and various campuses of the University of California.

A deepening budget crisis in California caused by a 27 percent drop in revenue over the past year hasn’t stopped bond sales for the agency, which currently has enough cash to last through 2011, Trounson said.

Trounson said the institute receives no funding from the state’s general fund.

“Cuts to us would be purely symbolic,” he said. “Our focus is to do something to help people in the community suffering from horrible diseases.”

Institute funding of new research facilities throughout the state has also stimulated the economy and created thousands of construction jobs, Trounson said.