New funding for heart disease, blindness, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy

It was a late night for CIRM staff and board members, but worth the long hours given the importance of the evening’s decisions. Tonight the board voted to approve funding for four additional teams of researchers working toward therapies in heart disease, a form of blindness called retinitis pigmentosa, Alzheimer’s disease and muscular dystrophy.

During the meeting we also heard an outpouring of support from heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease advocates.

One man, speaking in support of the heart disease application, had participated in a previous trial by the same group. He started by saying “I am supposed to be a dead man.” Instead, he’s alive, healthy, and a new grandfather. That’s a story we’d love to see repeated for all the diseases we fund.

Liza Gibbons, who sits on our board, took a moment to pause the proceedings after some particularly emotional testimony from Alzheimer’s advocates to thank those people for coming to the meeting. By 8pm when she made her comments, advocates had been sitting in uncomfortable hotel conference chairs for four hours waiting to tell their stories. They spoke about losing jobs, losing memories and seeing their life partners succumb to the hazy world of Alzheimer’s disease.

The new awards follow a governing board meeting in July in which the board
approved funding for eight of the disease team applications. At that time they sent another five awards for additional review. Tonight they heard the results of that additional review and chose to fund the four additional awards.

The meeting continues tomorrow with a vote on the Basic Biology IV awards. We’ll be issuing our press release on all of the funding decisions from this meeting after that vote. If you don’t already receive our press releases you can sign up on our website. You can also find the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting, which has information on how to listen in.

To get a sense of the emotional stories we hear from patient advocates at these meetings, here is a short video of ALS patients who spoke in July. This gives a sense of the stories and of the passion of our board—especially the patient advocate board members—for trying to find new therapies.



3 thoughts on “New funding for heart disease, blindness, Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy

  1. Is that all STEM got after 20 years? Their result is close to negative, not positive. Not justify CIRM $ 40M. please go to to see what a real human stem cell of Prop 71 can do. You know falsify result/statement for government funding is serious scientific misconduct. CIRM, on questionable CA state government website (.gov), do not have ethical regulations, scientific conduct codes, financial conflict of interest regulations like NIH and other government agencies all have implemented? Start with those respectful role models like Irv Weissman, Frank Litvack, Frank Laferla first.

    Animal models are xeno-hosts for transplantation of human cells, not ideal for testing therapeutic outcomes of human stem cells. The results of animal studies can be highly variable and difficult to reproduce, unreliable as benchmarks for decisions on humans in clinical trials. CIRM should take your advantage of human embryonic stem cells, skip the animals, fast track to clinical trial, rather crawling after traditional animal studies for leads coming out of animals. Just see what $STEM did for 20 years.

  2. Can somebody at the CIRM Confirm…

    1 Billion Dollars have been dispersed and you have zero clinical trials using Human Embryonic Stem Cells?

  3. I believe they said that clinical trials are hoped to start by 2017. It takes time to get results and work out all of the kinks to ensure these therapies are safe for patients. Plus, FDA is really strict and overburdened with work– so that slows the process down.

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