Battling COVID and turning back the clock on stem cell funding


Battling the virus that causes COVID-19 is something that is top of everyone’s mind right now. That’s why CIRM is funding 17 different projects targeting the virus. But one of the most valuable tools in helping develop vaccines against a wide variety of diseases in the past is now coming under threat. We’ll talk about both issues in a live broadcast we’re holding on Wednesday, October 14th at noon (PDT).

That date is significant because it’s Stem Cell Awareness Day and we thought it appropriate to host a meeting looking at two of the most important issues facing the field.

The first part of the event will focus on the 17 projects that CIRM is funding that target COVID-19. This includes three clinical trials aiming to treat people who have been infected with the virus and are experiencing some of the more severe effects, such as damaged lungs.

We’ll also look at some of the earlier stage research that includes:

  • Work to help develop a vaccine
  • Using muscle stem cells to help repair damage to the diaphragm in patients who have spent an extended period on a ventilator
  • Boosting immune system cells to help fight the virus

The second part of the event will look at ways that funding for stem cell research at the federal level is once again coming into question. The federal government has already imposed new restrictions on funding for fetal tissue research, and now there are efforts in Congress to restrict funding for embryonic stem cell research.

The impacts could be significant. Fetal tissue has been used for decades to help develop some of the most important vaccines used today including rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis A, and shingles. They have also been used to make approved drugs against diseases including hemophilia, rheumatoid arthritis, and cystic fibrosis.

We’ll look at some of the reasons why we are seeing these potential restrictions on the medical research and what impact they could have on the ability to develop new treatments for the coronavirus and other deadly diseases.

You can watch the CIRM Stem Cell Awareness Day live event by going here: at noon on Wednesday, October 14th.

Feel free to share news about this event with anyone you think might be interested.

We look forward to seeing you there.

5 thoughts on “Battling COVID and turning back the clock on stem cell funding

  1. Dear Kevin:

    Blindly citing past research and development using cells and tissues taken from electively aborted persons will not make the continuation of such research practices ethically or morally acceptable. Your readers can be better informed by reading a recent report (referenced below) from scientists informing and commenting on this issue. There are so many alternatives available to research enabled by elective fetal abortions that arguments to the contrary are simply ill-informed, or possibly disingenuous.

    Sander Lee, T., Feeney, M.B., Schmainda, K. M., Sherley, J. L., and Prentice, D. A. (2020) “Human Fetal Tissue from Elective Abortions in Research and Medicine: Science, Ethics, and Law.” Issues in Law & Med 35, 3-61.

    How about the CIRM leadership working instead to lead the stem cell research community to better research ethics.

    • Hello Ace, the researchers did run a second clinical trial but the results were not as encouraging as the first time around. They are now trying to understand why so they can correct the process and hopefully start another clinical trial in the future.

  2. Hello Kevin,

    I thought that the livestream would be recorded, I wasn’t able to attend..
    Is there any chance that a recording will be uploaded?

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