The state of California
is preparing to invest up to $40 million in a new scientific field that backers say could revolutionize medicine and lead to personalized medical treatments.
The directors of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine met in Berkeley on Jan. 29 to create one or two research centers for stem-cell genomics, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Scientists and biotech companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego and elsewhere are competing for the research money.
Researchers believe genomics—the study of genes and their relationships—can lead to more effective therapies that are tailored to a patient's genetic makeup.
The new research centers for stem-cell genomics could help make California a leader in the fast-moving field.
“Right now, in a lot of ways, doctors are making educated guesses as to how to treat patients more generally,” said UC Davis stem-cell researcher Paul Knoepfler. “By knowing our genomic information ... they could be making far more educated choices about treatments.”
The move into genomics comes as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine struggles to fulfill the promises of the 2004 ballot initiative campaign that created the $3 billion stem-cell agency.
So far, no new therapies have emerged from the state institute, which will run out of cash for new awards in less than three years and needs some high-profile success to raise more money.
Two years ago, the stem-cell agency decided to move ahead with the plan to fund research into stem-cell genomics and began accepting applications for research money.
A group headed by Stanford University's Michael Snyder, director of its Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine, is expected to receive a $33 million award, based on documents posted on the agency's website.