May 28, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Stem cell & regenerative medicine good news & pubs

There is always plenty of complicated, mixed-bag news on the stem cell and regenerative medicine front so it’s great to highlight when there’s some good news out there. Today’s post includes several such upbeat items. At the bottom I’ve included a list of some recent interesting publications as well.

Rosie Barrero CIRM stem cell good news
Rosie Barrero, patient advocate, featured in CIRM video (screenshot here). Some good news on this vision project.

Good news on vision front: jCyte Therapy Deal with Santen Pharmaceutical.

David Jensen over at California Stem Cell Report reported on this blockbuster deal for a quarter of a billion dollars. Jensen wrote:

“The California company is jCyte, Inc., of Newport Beach. It has received $15 million from the California stem cell agency over the last few years to develop a treatment for retinitis pigmentosa. Its co-founder, Henry Klassen of UC Irvine, has received an additional $19 million from the agency for his work that led to creation of jCyte. The Japanese firm is Santen Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., a publicly traded firm.”

Here’s the jCyte PR. I’m not so familiar with Santen Pharmaceutical. It’s an ophthalmology research firm.

Jensen highlighted how CIRM supported the firm. It’s not clear how much this kind of deal from a biotech that CIRM has supported actually financially benefits the agency or California’s coffers, but it’s definitely good on the timing front for the planned fall ballot initiative to fund CIRM again. The California Stem Cell Agency has a video on this project featuring patient advocate Rosie Barrero (see screenshot above).

Henry Klassen
Henry Klassen.

Good news on CIRM funding front as ballot supporters submit needed signatures.

The San Francisco Chronicle published the article, “California stem cell advocates submit signatures for $5.5 billion bond measure.” From the piece:

“Supporters of a proposed $5.5 billion bond measure that would keep California’s stem cell research institute in business say they have submitted enough signatures to qualify it for the November ballot.

The campaign behind the initiative pleaded for people to mail in thousands of signatures last month, after the state’s stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic all but halted the efforts of signature gatherers who ordinarily collect petitions in public places.

On Tuesday, backers submitted about 925,000 signatures to county elections officials. Roughly 10,000 of those were gathered through the mail-in effort.”

I’m happy to say that we Knoepflers submitted 4 signatures in support of CIRM. The California Stem Cell Agency is just about out of funds at this point. It did recently fund some new COVID-19 research, but there’s not much funding left. For another decade or so of research funding CIRM needs the new initiative to pass here with California voters.Stem cell predictions

Getting the signatures just to get on the ballot was hampered by the pandemic, but a more daunting challenge may be convincing California voters to fund the agency during the severe economic crisis. Just a few months back things seemed much more upbeat on this front. I included a CIRM funding item in my yearly stem cell predictions for 2020 back in December predicting a narrow passage of the ballot measure. Now I’m less sure but still hopeful.

Some recent interesting stem cell and regenerative medicine pubs

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