$5.5M grant awarded for spinal stem cell research


The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has awarded a $5.5 million grant to a University of California Irvine professor to study the use of stem cells to treat chronic cervical spinal cord injury.

Aileen Anderson, PhD, director of UCI's Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center and professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, will use the funds to develop a new human neural stem cell therapy.

"In the U.S., there are about 285,000 individuals living with paralysis due to traumatic spinal cord injury, and there are no FDA-approved treatments," Dr. Anderson said in a Nov. 30 news release. "Integrating transplanted human neural stem cells is likely to direct improved locomotor function, and increasing a single level of spine function can make a significant positive impact on both quality of life and the economic burden of disease for these patients."

The grant is one of 11 stem cell-based projects funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Translational Research Program, which accelerates therapies that have shown promise in the lab and are ready to advance to clinical study or patient care.

Earlier this year, UC Davis Health in Sacramento, Calif., launched the first FDA-approved human clinical trial using stem cells before birth to treat spina bifida, a study that was made possible by a $9 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

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