NIH To Give Grants for Stem Cell, HIV Vaccine Research
The NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences announced on Monday that it will award three-year grants totaling more than $6.3 million to three Exploratory Centers for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, the Washington Post reports (Washington Post, 9/30). The agency will give a total of $2.2 million for the first year of funding for the centers in a move that marks the first time the NIH has funded centers involved with human embryonic stem cell research (NIGMS release, 9/29). The grants limit the three centers -- the University of Washington-Seattle/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; the University of Michigan Medical School; and Madison, Wisc.-based WiCell Research Institute -- to using federally approved stem cell lines listed on the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry (Reuters, 9/29). NIGMS acting Director Judith Greenberg said, "NIGMS recognizes a critical need to increase the scientific workforce in this important area of 21st century biomedical research. We also want to help the research community overcome some of the technological barriers that have prevented biologists from developing stem cells into a powerful model system for probing health and disease" (NIGMS release, 9/29).
In other NIH grant news, the agency's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on Monday announced grants totaling $81 million to four biotechnology companies to develop HIV vaccines (Washington Post, 9/30). The grants are part of NIAID's HIV Vaccine Design and Development Teams program, which is a public-private partnership aimed at accelerating HIV vaccine development. Each of the research teams is using a different strategy to develop an HIV vaccine. None of the projects contain the genetic information to make a complete virus, protecting study participants from becoming infected with HIV (NIAID release, 9/29). NIAID awarded the five-year grants to Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based AlphaVax; San Diego, Calif.-based Epimmune; Columbia, Md.-based Novavax; and Progenics Pharmaceuticals of Tarrytown, N.Y., Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times reports (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 9/30). NIAID did not disclose the specific amount of funding for each group, according to the Post (Washington Post, 9/30). NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said, "A safe and effective HIV vaccine is critical to the control of HIV globally. These new awards will speed the development of promising HIV vaccine candidates that are based on recent advances in HIV vaccine design and on the latest discoveries in HIV virology and immunology" (NIAID release, 9/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.