I was heartened to just learn that researchers from the Hadassah-Hebrew Medical Center in Jerusalem are receiving a $1.33 million grant from the Israeli government to advance their development of a stem cell treatment for people with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD Hadassah is also funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness. We are providing the group with a three-year, $300,000 grant for development of stem cell therapies.
Helping our researchers attract additional outside funding — whether from government entities or biopharmaceutical companies — is critical to the advancement of potential treatments and cures. In fact, I estimate that for every dollar we’ve invested in lab research, we’ve attracted seven dollars from the National Eye Institute. And in recent years, gene therapy development companies such as Oxford BioMedica and Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation are investing several millions in clinically focused research that was made possible by the Foundation’s funding of earlier lab studies.
Led by Dr. Benny Reubinoff, the Hadassah group is outstanding. I met with them earlier this year during my trip to Israel, and I was particularly impressed with their expertise in moving their research into human studies. They understand the regulatory challenges and technical rigors in advancing a potential therapy out of the lab and into the clinic. I am also impressed with Hadassah’s ambition; they are affiliated with companies that are targeting conditions like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis in addition to dry AMD.
I look forward to providing future updates on Hadassah’s progress toward a clinical trial of stem cells for dry AMD. So, stay tuned.
Pictured Above: Dr. Benny Reubinoff.