The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which awards grants and loans for stem cell research, has approved an award to StemCells, a cell-based therapeutics company based in Newark, Calif., for up to $20 million under CIRM's Disease Team Therapy Development Award program (RFA 10-05).
The award will fund preclinical development of StemCells' proprietary HuCNS-SC product candidate (purified human neural stem cells) in Alzheimer's disease over a maximum four-year period, with the goal of filing an investigational new drug (IND) application for a clinical trial in that time. In July 2012, CIRM approved a separate award to the company under RFA 10-05 for up to $20 million to fund preclinical development of HuCNS-SC cells in cervical spinal cord injury.
"With the recent spate of late-stage clinical failures in Alzheimer's disease, it is clear that the field could benefit from alternative approaches to lessen the huge burden on families, caregivers and our healthcare system," said Martin McGlynn, president and CEO of StemCells. "Our recently reported preclinical data, which showed that our neural stem cells restored memory and enhanced synaptic function in two animal models relevant to Alzheimer's disease, shows our approach has promise. We greatly appreciate the support from CIRM, which should help us accelerate our efforts to test our HuCNS-SC cells in Alzheimer's disease."
StemCells will evaluate its HuCNS-SC cells as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease in collaboration with Frank LaFerla, Ph.D., a world-renowned researcher in the field. LaFerla is director of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND).