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State stem cell institute awards funding to Stanford, Geron Corp.

Interesting news this morning from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Not only did the institute's governing board award four Stanford scientists a total of $5.7 million as part of their Basic Biology III Awards (congratulations to Michael Clarke, Renee Reijo Pera, Joseph Wu and Joanna Wysocka!), it also voted to fund Menlo Park-based Geron Corp's ongoing clinical trial of a human embryonic stem cell-based treatment for spinal cord injury - to the tune of $25 million. According to Robert Klein, the institute's chairman:

Supporting the Geron trial is a landmark step for CIRM. However, we must remember that there will be successes and interim failures as human trials proceed through the refinements necessary to achieve a successful human therapy. We need to be prepared to stand by the heroic patients and the companies as they face these challenges and solve the problems that stand in the way of the recovery of patients from paralysis. When the people of California voted for proposition 71 they did so with the hope of seeing new therapies for disabling diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases and injuries. By funding this trial, CIRM is taking a major step toward making that hope a reality.

In January, Stanford and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center became the third site approved to participate in Geron’s phase-1 clinical trial of the cells. The first patient was treated in October 2010 at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta; Stanford has not yet treated a patient. Up to 10 patients will be enrolled during the first phase of the trial at seven sites nationwide.

With the addition of the Basic Biology III Awards, Stanford has now received about $192 million from CIRM - more than any other institution.

Previously Stanford joins first human embryonic stem cell trial

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