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Spinal cord, AMD research earns CIRM funding

OAKLAND, CA (US), July 2019 — The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) board has approved investing $19.7 million in four awards in its Translational Research program, which helps promising projects complete the testing needed to begin talking to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about holding a clinical trial.

Mark Tuszynski, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) was among the grantees. He was awarded $6.23 million to develop a therapy for spinal cord injury (SCI). Dr. Tuszynski will use human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to create neural stem cells (NSCs), which will then be grafted at the injury site.  In preclinical studies, the NSCs have been shown to help create a kind of relay at the injury site, restoring communication between the brain and spinal cord and re-establishing muscle control and movement.

Mark Humayun, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Southern California (USC) also was awarded funding, totaling $3.73 million, to develop a novel therapeutic product capable of slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. The approach that Dr. Humayun is developing will use a biologic product produced by human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). This material will be injected into the eye of patients with early development of dry AMD, supporting the survival of photoreceptors in the affected retina, the kind of cells damaged by the disease.

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