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UCI researcher wins large research grant

California Institute for Regenerative Medicine awards Thomas Lane $4.8 million for stem cell research in treating multiple sclerosis.

May 29, 2012|By Britney Barnes

A UC Irvine stem cell researcher won a $4.8-million grant to fund research toward a treatment for multiple sclerosis.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine awarded immunologist Thomas Lane, of the campus' Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, an Early Transitional Award last week to create a new line of neural stem cells to treat multiple sclerosis, according to a UCI press release.

"I am delighted that [the California Institute] has chosen to support our efforts to advance a novel stem cell-based therapy for multiple sclerosis," Peter Donovan, director of the research center, said in the release.

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Lane is collaborating with Jeanne Loring, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, and Claude Bernard, a multiple sclerosis researcher at Monash University in Australia.

The research project "really embodies what [the California Institute] is all about, which is bringing science together to treat horrible diseases like multiple sclerosis," said Lane, who is a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Multiple sclerosis is a central nervous system disease that causes inflammation and a loss of myelin, a fatty tissue that insulates and protects nerve cells.

The three are working on a stem cell treatment that will stop myelin loss while promoting the growth of new myelin to mend damaged nerves.

Loring creates the neural stem cells, said Lane, while he is testing the therapeutic effects the cells have on multiple sclerosis cells in animals.

The stem cells are already having a positive effect and the scientists are trying to understand why. They hope to identify the cells that have the most promise before going to clinical trials.

"I really want to thank the [California Institute] for allowing, and for funding, us," Lane said.

britney.barnes@latimes.com

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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