California’s stem cell program is set to award $11.6 million on Thursday to help finance a first-in-human, gene therapy clinical trial that is aimed at reducing pain and joint degeneration from arthritic knees, which trouble more than 14 million Americans. 

The award applicant is Genascence, Inc., a Palo Alto, Calif., firm, which plans a 50-patient, phase 1b, multicenter trial. The company will be matching the funds with $7.6 million.

A successful treatment for arthritis of the knee, even if is not a cure, would be the sort of high-profile therapy that voters were led to expect when they voted in 2004 to approve the creation of the stem cell agency. Such a treatment would also resonate with voters when the agency’s current $5 billion runs out in a decade or so. 

Full story at The California Stem Cell Report.