CIRM President Alan Trounson, PhD (well what president did you think we meant?) is in high demand as a speaker and presenter for his thoughts on regenerative medicine in general, and the work of CIRM in particular.
He recently had a cross-Atlantic email conversation with Alex Lovering, the associate editor of London-based International Innovation, a publication dedicated to disseminating the latest science, research and technological innovations on a global level. You can read the full interview here.
In the interview, Dr. Trounson said that in the past year alone there have been many exciting advances in the field of stem cell research, and he points out three in particular:
• A few groups have reported the ability to coax stem cells into forming complex, multilayer tissue; something that is key to many even simple repair scenarios
• Other researchers have made some very fundamental advances in scaling up stem cell and progenitor cell production, which is critical to commercializing most cell-based therapies, in particular, allogeneic ones [i.e. therapies using cells from a donor]
• During the past year, several teams have greatly expanded on a discovery initially made with muscle cells that you can directly reprogram one adult cell to the function of a different adult cell without first taking it back to a pluripotent state such as an iPS cell. This opens up whole new avenues to therapy that had not been expected
In the interview Dr. Trounson covers a number of topics from our international collaborations to our increasing efforts to move the most promising therapies from the lab into clinical trials in people.
In the past few years CIRM has helped fund the creation of 12 new state-of-the-art research labs (the last one opened recently, here’s a blog on that). Dr. Trounson says as he travels around California the researchers working in the facilities:
frequently pull me aside to tell me how great the facilities are for accelerating their work, in providing ready access both to specialized equipment and valuable collaborators. Furthermore, we surveyed our grantees this winter and found that they had cited our facilities to attract follow-on funding of $190 million in new grants from NIH and other non-CIRM sources. That represents more real leverage.
Dr. Trounson ends by saying he is confident that we are entering a new era of biological developments which:
will enable us to utilize stem cells for biomedicine across an extraordinary breadth of disease, injury and infection. I see major advances in personalized medicine, increased understanding of disease and infection and unparalleled opportunity to improve quality of life for many people of the world.