The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in San Francisco has approved a further $243 million to encourage researchers working on stem cell therapies to push forward into the clinical trial phase. Experts believe this funding could prove critical in developing viable treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries.
This is the second round of funding that the CIRM has approved for stem cell research, and is aimed at multidisciplinary research teams. The application process involves two stages. Initially, 35 Planning Awards of up to $110,000 will be given to lead investigators, enabling them to put together scientific teams, and to plan and prepare for the Disease Team Award application.
Following this, the 35 applications will be assessed, with up to 12 teams being given a Disease Team Award, worth up to $20 million. Only recipients of the initial planning grant are able to apply for a Disease Team Award. Successful teams are expected to file a request to proceed with clinical trials, or complete Phase I or Phase II trials within four years.
In the first round of CIRM funding, $250 million was awarded to 14 disease teams. These included joint teams from the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) with Novocell Incorporated, and UCSF's Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research with Burnham Institute for Medical Research, who are researching diabetes and brain tumours, respectively.
The application process will open in November this year, and full awards are expected to be approved in 2012.