Stem Cell Directors Order More Considersation on $20 Million UCLA Research Application

Directors of the California stem cell agency today deferred action on a $20 million proposal that was rejected by its grant reviewers and sent it back for more consideration.

The move involved an application byStanley Nelson and M. Carrie Miceli of UCLA dealing with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. They are parents of a child with the affliction, which is usually fatal by age 25. The CIRM review summary said it is“a devastating and incurable muscle-wasting disease caused by genetic mutations in the gene that codes for dystrophin, a protein that plays a key role in muscle cell health.”
Nelson had filed an appeal seeking to overturn reviewers’ action. Five mothers and two fathers with children suffering from the disease made emotional appeals to CIRM directors on behalf of the application. Following their presentation, Art Torres, co vice chairman of the CIRM board, responded equally emotionally that the board is dedicated to finding therapies for such afflictions as Duchenne muscular dystrophy
The board approved more review for the application after it was disclosed that a company issued a press release two days ago that showed that a drug involved in the proposal was more effective than reviewers believed. Philip Pizzo, a member of the board and dean of the Stanford medical school, expressed caution about the press release, given its timing and source. His comments came prior to the appearance of the parents.
The application is scheduled to be brought back to the full board in September for further action.

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