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$20 million awards move diabetes and blood disorder therapies to clinical trials

October 2012 — Nearly $20 million has been allocated to advance promising therapies in diabetes and Beta-thalassemia from the lab into clinical trials. The grants, from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), were made this week to biotech companies ViaCyte Inc. and Bluebird Bio.

ViaCyte received $10.1 million to continue preclinical and initiate clinical testing of an embryonic stem cell-based therapy that could transform how patients with insulin dependent diabetes are treated. Bluebird Bio was awarded $9.3 million to use a stem cell and gene therapy approach to correct a genetic disease in young patients with B-thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder that can cause widespread organ damage and premature death.

These are the first grants made under the agency’s Strategic Partnership Awards initiative, which is designed to engage more effectively with industry and to increase outside investment in CIRM-funded stem cell research.

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