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Thursday, April 30, 2009

State Stem Cell Agency Announces $275 Million from Bond Sales

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Help -- or at least cash -- is on the way
  • Help -- or at least cash -- is on the way

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) announced yesterday that it has received $275 million in fresh funding from a recent sale of state bonds, saving the state stem-cell agency from a cash crunch that would have left it without money to fund new research by next fall.

Almost $68 million of that infusion will go to funding work that speeds basic scientific research towards clinical

applications through the agency's "Early Translational" grants. The

grants are intended to underwrite medical researchers' early steps

towards developing cell-based therapies for various degenerative

diseases, and are part of a larger shift at the agency towards funding

work with a foreseeable impact on patients' lives, rather than academic

research that may not bear fruit in the near future. The agency expects

to distribute an additional $200 million for the later stages of this

work.

CIRM is dealing with something of an identity crisis,

as biomedical researchers and patient advocates debate how best to use

the agency's remaining money. Allotted $3 billion to fund stem-cell

research through Proposition 71 in 2004, the agency is facing a

scientific landscape in which embryonic stem cell-based cures for

high-profile diseases have not emerged as quickly as expected.

According

to CIRM's announcement, the agency was given additional bond money beyond the $275 million, but

some of it had to be used to repay a state loan. Last week, the California Stem Cell Report

quoted Robert Feyer, bond counsel to the state treasurer's office, as

stating that $505 million would be available for the agency.

Photo by kaibara87.

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Peter Jamison

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