The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is awarding $150 million in new funding to help move promising stem cell-based therapies from the laboratory research phase into clinical trials.

The grants, up to $20 million per applicant, go to teams of researchers in both academia and industry who have been working on projects that are thought to represent the best possible chances of producing therapies for deadly and disabling diseases. These include Huntington’s disease, metastatic melanoma, osteoporosis, critical limb ischemia, spinal cord injury, ALS, and cardiovascular disease.

“Everything we do in this innovative Disease Team Program is focused on getting good science converted to productive treatments for patients,” says Alan Trounson, Ph.D., president of CIRM. “These awards reflect and highlight our commitment to identifying the most promising stem cell research and supporting it for the time needed to show both the safety and effectiveness of therapy, with an ultimate goal of producing a new treatment that is approved by the FDA for clinical application.”

The teams that are being given the funding are expected to file a request to begin clinical trials or to complete Phase I or II clinical trials within four years. Five of the teams propose to finish a clinical trial within the period of the award.

Two of CIRM’s 20 collaborative funding partners around the world will also be contributing to this round of projects. An investigator at the NIH will be a partner Principal Investigator with the University of California, Los Angeles team developing a therapy for metastatic melanoma; and the Andalusian Initiative for Advanced Therapies in Spain will be providing $1.6 million to researchers there to collaborate with the team at UC Davis working on a therapy for limb ischemia.

The awards break down as follows:

  • MSC engineered to produce BDNF for the treatment of Huntington’s disease, University of California, Davis: $18,950,061
  • Genetic Re-programming of Stem Cells to Fight Cancer, University of California, Los Angeles: $19,999,563
  • Treatment of osteoporosis with endogenous Mesenchymal stem cells, University of California, Davis: $19,999,867
  • Phase I study of IM Injection of VEGF-Producing MSC for the Treatment of Critical Limb Ischemia, University of California, Davis: $14,184,595
  • Neural stem cell transplantation for chronic cervical spinal cord injury, StemCells: $20,000,000
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes for Patients with End Stage Heart Failure, Stanford University: $19,999,899
  • Progenitor Cells Secreting GDNF for the Treatment of ALS, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: $17,842,617
  • A monoclonal antibody that depletes blood stem cells and enables chemotherapy free transplants, Stanford University: $20,000,000

Total: $150,976,602

A research leadership award of $6,718,471 was also granted to Andrew McMahan for a project called “Repair and regeneration of the nephron” at the University of Southern California.

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