New stem cell awards bring therapies closer to patients

At last week’s board meeting we funded 21 new awards worth $69 million. These were the third round of our recurring Early Translational Awards. (Here’s our press release about those awards.)

Going into that governing board meeting, board member Leeza Gibbons wrote about what supporting new research awards means to her:

“Every time we consider applications for funding, I confess to getting almost breathless. The very thought that we might be setting into motion the cure for a disease which could save millions of lives is the thrill of a lifetime. I’m always excited to vote for great science to unlock the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease. At every meeting, I think of my grandmother and my mother, both of whom died of the disease. It makes me feel better to know I can honor them by funding hope for the future, and I can tell the families I work with who are so desperate for answers, that they are coming. We’re closer than we’ve ever been.”

The goal of these awards is to fund a stage of research in which scientists take a finding that they’ve discovered in their basic research and investigate whether that drug or cell type is as promising as it first seems—whether it really has potential as a new therapy.

In this chart showing the stages of research leading up to clinical trials, the Early Translational Awards support projects in the first two categories: finding proof of concept and identifying a development candidate. Our Disease Team awards support the final stage leading up to a clinical trial.

We have more information about the stages of therapy development on our website.

The awards we funded last week bring the total number of projects in those three stages of the therapy development pipeline to 63. (Those projects are on our website.) Some of the newly funded projects are in disease areas we’ve funded before, like Alzheimer’s disease. Others are investigating disease areas that hadn’t been represented before like SCID (bubble boy disease) and Danon disease. We also significantly upped our commitment to heart disease, funding four additional projects for this devastating condition. You can see descriptions of all the awards on our website.

A.A.

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