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State stem cell research funding agency awards $20 million to UCI, StemCells Inc.
Date:7/27/2012

Irvine, Calif., July 26, 2012 Efforts to begin human clinical trials using stem cells to treat cervical spinal cord injury in the U.S. received a $20 million boost Thursday, July 26, from the state's stem cell research funding agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

The award will be shared by Aileen Anderson and Brian Cummings, associate professors of physical medicine & rehabilitation at UC Irvine's Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, and Nobuko Uchida of StemCells Inc. in Newark, Calif. Anderson and Cummings proved that transplanting human neural stem cells discovered and developed by Stem Cells, Inc. into rodents with thoracic spinal cord injury could restore mobility. The CIRM award announced Thursday will fund the collection of data necessary to establish human clinical trials in the U.S.

"Our therapeutic approach is based on the hypothesis that transplanted human neural stem cells integrate into the injured spinal cord to repair the protective myelin sheath and spinal circuitry," Anderson said. "Any therapy that can partially reverse some of the effects of spinal cord injury could substantially change the quality of life for patients by altering their dependence on assisted living and medical care."

CIRM's governing board on Thursday gave authorized $150 million for eight teams at five institutions statewide. The projects backed are considered critical to the institute's mission of translating basic stem cell discoveries into clinical cures.

"CIRM's support for UC Irvine's efforts to advance novel stem cell-based therapies for a variety of diseases is extremely gratifying," said Peter Donovan, director of the university's Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. "This latest award for spinal cord treatment holds great promise. We are delighted."

About 1.3 million Americans suffer chronically from spinal cord injuries. In California, nearly 147,000 individuals are living with su
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Contact: Cathy Lawhon
clawhon@uci.edu
949-824-1151
University of California - Irvine
Source:Eurekalert

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