California Pops for $26 Million to Fight Afflictions Ranging from Prostate Cancer to Eye Disease
Former CIRM VP/general counsel on board of directors of $8 million recipient
Directors of the California stem cell and gene therapy program on Tuesday approved $26 million in research awards attacking diseases ranging from eye afflictions to prostate cancer.
The actions came unanimously and marked the addition of the 78th clinical trial to the portfolio of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the state program is formally known.
The $8 million award for a phase one clinical trial went to BioEclipse Therapeutics, Inc., of South San Francisco, whose board of directors includes a former vice president and general counsel for CIRM, Elona Baum. She is also a managing director of DEFTA Partners, which has financially supported BioEclipse.
While at CIRM from 2009 to 2014, Baum “oversaw $1 billion of investment in regenerative medicine research and clinical programs, the creation of a $40M induced pluripotent stem cell bank and a re-vamping of intellectual property regulations governing CIRM grants,” according to the BioEclipse website.
BioEclipse’s proposed therapy uses immune cells that are loaded with a cancer-killing virus that targets cancer tissue but spares healthy tissue, CIRM said in a news release. The therapy is aimed at hard-to-treat tumors such as those involved in colorectal cancer, triple-negative breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
The principal investigator on the project is Pamela Contag, CEO and co-founder of BioEclipse. Also involved, according to Clinicaltrials.gov, is Oliver Dorigo of Stanford University. The trial is currently recruiting 24 patients, according to the federal clinical trial site. More information can be found here, but it has not been updated since July of last year.
The latest review summary of the BioEclipse application can be found here.
Below is the list of additional awards approved on Tuesday. These involve advancing/translating basic research into something that would be suitable for clinical testing. They fall into what is known as the “valley of death,” a period when it is very difficult to raise funds.
CIRM does not identify researchers or institutions in the review summaries, only disclosing that information after its directors vote in public. Three of this week’s awards went to organizations that have or had links to CIRM directors.
Ray Therapeutics (listed below) is located in San Diego. In January, it secured $6 million in fresh financing. Paul Bresge, its CEO, formerly was CEO of jCyte, Inc., of Newport Beach, another CIRM-funded business ($15 million).
Labels: grantmaking, clinical trials, revolving door, valley of death, translational