November 24, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Some perspectives on CIRM funding for first clinical trial patient

Today marked a major milestone as the Geron spinal cord injury clinical trial, supported by CIRM funding, using human embryonic stem cell-derived oligodendrocyte precursor cells enrolled its first patient in California supported.

CIRM funding = clinical trials progressing and patients treated.

Many major media outlets covered the story including the North County Times in this piece.

This event marks a major turning point I think as we will see more and more directly clinical readouts of CIRM funding over the next several years. This is the fourth patient enrolled in Geron’s trial and the first two have had no negative outcomes so far. If this trend continues, we can expect Geron’s GRNOPC1 drug, which is being tested, to advance further along the road to the clinic.

Stanford surgeon Dr. Gary Steinberg performed the surgery as reported in a Standford PR.

Last summer, when Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research was banned via his injunction and NIH was prohibited from funding such efforts, there was a time when basically the only major human embryonic stem cell research effort in the country was that being funded by CIRM.

At that point we did not know what would happen with the court case and for all we knew for months or perhaps even years CIRM might have been the only public foundation funding a major human embryonic stem cell effort. Given the remaining uncertainty about the court case, the future remains somewhat unsettled at the federal level. Another reason to say “thank goodness for CIRM!”.

It is somewhat ironic that today we learned that adult stem cell researchers suing the government to block NIH funding of human embryonic stem cell research had appealed their case.

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