Dr. Brian Cummings awarded $4.8 million CIRM grant

July 25, 2019

Dr. Brian Cummings
Dr. Brian Cummings presenting at a SCRC community lecture

Dr. Brian Cummings was awarded a $4.8 million grant from California’s Stem Cell Agency, CIRM. This grant will support the only CIRM-funded program addressing traumatic brain injury in California.

Traumatic Brian Injuries (TBI) are a leading cause of death & disability worldwide, affecting more people than brain, breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer combined. Nearly 2 million Americans (230,000 Californians) experience a TBI leading to hospitalization yearly. 

The CIRM funding will be used to complete GMP manufacture and pre-clinical testing of a stem cell therapy for TBI. “We believe a cell therapy is a good strategy for promoting recovery of cognitive/emotional function because of the potential for long-term biological action and the multi-target effects of human neural stem cells (hNSCs),” said Dr. Cummings. 

Dr. Cummings is a member of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Neurological Surgery, and researcher at UCI who investigates the mechanisms of recovery mediated by human stem cell transplantation after neurotrauma (spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury).

 “We have shown efficacy in four separate experiments using hNSC manufactured 3 times. We have improved learning & memory and reduced anxiety-like behaviors in TBI models,” Dr. Cummings further explains. 

Because TBI often results in permanent cognitive and emotional deficits, the cost of TBI far exceeds the cost of treating the initial injury and includes long-term care with significant impact on patients’ friends and family. There are no effective treatments, making TBI one of the most urgent, unmet medical needs based on the number of people affected and cost to society.