Stanford Researchers Get Stem Cell Grants for $5.6 Million
News Jul 07, 2008
Stanford University School of Medicine researchers received approximately $5.6 million on June 27 from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in awards designed to support the creation of new pluripotent human stem cell lines. All four of Stanford’s applicants were funded.
The researchers received multiyear grants of about $1.4 million each as part of CIRM's newest round of awards. The awards support two types of research. One is the creation of new human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines from excess or discarded early-stage human embryos created by in vitro fertilization.
Another is the derivation of new pluripotent human stem cell lines either through a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer or by modifying neonatal or adult cells to render them pluripotent. These “reprogrammed” cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs. Grant reviewers gave special consideration to those types of research unlikely to receive federal funding.
Pluripotent stem cells can both renew themselves and become nearly any type of cells in the body. Unlike neonatal or adult cells, which have begun to specialize in certain types of cells or tissues, embryonic stem cells start with a genetic blank slate and are therefore considered to be the most reliable type of pluripotent cells for use in research and potential clinical applications.
However, the use of human embryos can present an ethical dilemma for many people. The creation of new pluripotent cells from neonatal or adult tissues, although likely to require additional modification, would circumvent many ethical issues. It may also allow the creation of personalized stem cell lines to treat specific individuals struggling to overcome injury or disease.
CIRM's oversight committee granted 16 awards totaling $23 million out of about 50 applications from 38 non-profit institutions and 12 for-profit companies. With the latest round of grants, Stanford's total funding from CIRM amounts to about $90 million, more than any other institution.
"CIRM continues to show its confidence in Stanford's faculty and facilities," said Irving Weissman, MD, director of the Stanford Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute. "We are extremely pleased and proud of the researchers who are the recipients of this latest round of funding."