StemCells, Inc. announced today that the California Institute of has approved the Company’s application for a “ (CIRM) Team Therapy Development Planning Award.”
The grant, totaling approximately $100,000, will help fund the Company’s plans to develop its proprietary human neural stem cell product, HuCNS-SC(R) cells, in Alzheimer’s disease by enabling the Company and its collaborators at the University of California, Irvine, to prepare and submit an application for a “Disease Team Therapy Development Research Award.”
The CIRM has indicated that each Research Award will be up to $20 million, payable over four years, to fund preclinical and IND-enabling activities with the aim of starting human clinical trials within the four-year window. The CIRM has also indicated it plans to approve and fund Research Awards in the summer of 2012. StemCells, Inc. was one of only four companies awarded a disease team planning grant.
“Our research, and that of our collaborators, provides a strong rationale for developing our HuCNS-SC neural stem cells as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Ann Tsukamoto, PhD, Executive Vice President, Research & Development of StemCells, Inc. “Our collaborator, Professor Frank LaFerla, has shown that mouse neural stem cells enhance memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, and we have previously shown that our human neural stem cells can survive in the hostile environment reflective of an Alzheimer’s brain. This award is an encouraging vote of confidence, and with CIRM’s help, we will be better able to pursue our aim of developing a stem cell-based therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.”
Dr. LaFerla’s groundbreaking research was published in August 2009 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Dr. LaFerla, a world renowned leader in Alzheimer’s disease research, is Director of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND), and Chancellor’s Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior in the School of Biological Sciences at UCI. In April 2011, StemCells, Inc. and Dr. LaFerla established a research collaboration to evaluate the therapeutic potential of HuCNS-SC cells in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disorder that results in loss of memory and cognitive function. Today, there is no cure or effective treatment option. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, including nearly half of people aged 85 and older. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase rapidly as a result of our aging population.