CIRM Board invests $5 million in emergency funding for coronavirus


In response to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 virus in California and around the world the governing Board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) today held an emergency meeting to approve $5 million in rapid research funds targeting the virus.

“These are clearly extraordinary times and they require an extraordinary response from all of us,” says Dr. Maria T. Millan, President and CEO of CIRM. “Our mission is to accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs. California researchers have made us aware that they are pursuing potential stem cell based approaches to the COVID-19 crisis and we felt it was our responsibility to respond by doing all we can to support this research and doing so as quickly as we possibly can.”

The Board’s decision enables CIRM to allocate $5 million in funding for peer-reviewed regenerative medicine and stem cell research that could quickly advance treatments for COVID-19. The funding will be awarded as part of an expedited approval process.

To qualify applicants would go through a full review by CIRM’s independent Grants Working Group.

  • Approved projects will be immediately forwarded to the CIRM Board for a vote
  • Projects approved by the Board would go through an accelerated contract process to ensure funds are distributed as quickly as possible

“Our hope is that we can go from application to funding within 30 to 40 days,” says Jonathan Thomas, PhD, JD, Chair of the CIRM Board. “This is a really tight timeframe, but we can’t afford to waste a moment. There is too much at stake. The coronavirus is creating an unprecedented threat to all of us and, as one of the leading players in regenerative medicine, we are committed to doing all we can to develop the tools and promote the research that will help us respond to that threat.”

Only projects that target the development or testing of a treatment for COVID-19 are eligible. They must also meet other requirements including being ready to start work within 30 days of approval and propose achieving a clear deliverable within six months. The proposed therapy must also involve a stem cell or a drug or antibody targeting stem cells.

The award amounts and duration of the award are as follows:

Award Amount and Duration Limits

Project StageSpecific ProgramAward Amount*Award Duration
Clinical trialCLIN2$750,00024 months
Late stage preclinicalCLIN1$400,00012 months
TranslationalTRAN1$350,00012 months
DiscoveryDISC2$150,00012 months

CIRM Board members were unanimous in their support for the program. Al Rowlett, the patient advocate for mental health, said: “Given the complexity of this situation and the fact that many of the individuals I represent aren’t able to advocate for themselves, I wholeheartedly support this.”

Dr. Os Steward, from UC Irvine agreed: “I think that this is a very important thing for CIRM to do for a huge number of reasons. The concept is great and CIRM is perfectly positioned to do this.”

“All hands are on deck world-wide in this fight against COVID-19.” says Dr. Millan. “CIRM will deploy its accelerated funding model to arm our stem cell researchers in this multi-pronged and global attack on the virus.”

You can learn more about the program, including how to apply, on our website.

One thought on “CIRM Board invests $5 million in emergency funding for coronavirus

  1. The analysis of genome sequence of Covid-19 identified that 88% of sequence homologous to the bat-derived SARS-like V. However, Covid-19 shared 79.5% of sequence homologous to the SARS-CoV-2. These figures indicated that ~20% of Covid-19 DNA sequence is undergoing drastically mutation and let the virus can easily adapt from animal’s host to human. A small changing of whether by climate change is a key player for contributing the mutation of virus at this point of time.

    The outbreak of Covid-19 reported by today is worrying everyone and higher fatality rate is rocketed from each country day by day. The high rapidly rate of mutation in Covid-19 may hinder the research on vaccine. The high rate of virus infection cannot be neutralized by limited dose of antibiodies taken by human. The insufficient of antibodies to block the binding site of ACE-2 receptors in lung may halted the development of antibody treatment. Anti-idiotype antibodies can be an option to minimal the risk of virus infection. The idiotypes (lds) can be found on the determinants of variable region of antibody. Id was unique to a small set of antibody Both lds and anti-lds have been used for cancer and virus therapies. lds are distinguished by their topographical location on the immunoglobulin structures and are classified by their physical relation to the antigen binding site. For instance, isolated lds have no interference, close to or at the antigen binding site. Anti-ld antibodies (Ab2) bind to antigen binding site of Ab1 or so-called β type express the internal image of antigen for Ab1(anti-ACE-2). The internal image Ag may be seen as stereochemical copies of nominal Ag(ACE-2 receptor). Thus, anti-ld β type does mimic artificial physical structure of ACE-2 receptor on lung. In some circumstances, immunization with anti-ld β type can generate immune response to generate anti-anti-ld antibodies (Ab3)that are recognize the corresponding original antigen (ACE-2 receptor) by the Ab1. The generation of Ab3(response like Ab1) can block the binding site of ACE-2 receptor from viruses. Evidence showed that, Id vaccines are safe and repeated injection of murine anti-ld mab were not associated with any side effects. Therefore, anti-ld can be a first defense mechanism for viruses to bind to them instead of binding ACE-2 receptors on the lung. In addition, the envelop of Covid-19 is positively sense and modification of anti-ld antibodies to become like anion molecules may trigger the binding affinity of anti-ld to bind the corresponding virus.

    Anti-ld can be conjugated with a potential immunogenic carrier mixed with appropriate adjivant which can be more effective to treat patients with immature or suppressed immune system.

    In addition, the three dimensional shape of idiotype internal antigen can be done in computer modeling on the sequence of internal antigen hybridoma. The molecular modeling study will indicate molecular architecture which is the most likely peptide region to depict the antigenic structure. Then it should be possible to synthesize the relevant peptides which can be mimic the antigen structures.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.