The CIRM Alpha Stem Cell Clinic (ASCC) was opened at City of Hope on March 1, 2015. The award is intended to enable researchers to pursue important work that aims to bring the potential of stem cell treatments to fruition. Two clinical trials were identified to launch this center, and in the first year, we have added 8 additional studies. The current and future clinical studies include:
• Transplants of blood stem cells that have been genetically modified to treat patients with either AIDS or with AIDS-related lymphoma
• Use of neural stem cells to deliver drugs directly to cancers hiding in the brain and elsewhere
• T cell immunotherapy trials to treat patients with cancer
• Correction of hemophilia B by genetic editing of liver stem cells
To accomplish this, the City of Hope developed a novel approach to evaluation of these new therapies. Instead of using the existing Clinical Research Unit here, a dedicated outpatient clinic was established in the City of Hope Day Hospital and staffed with clinic nurses. The reason for this is reflected in the two-fold nature of the CIRM network of Alpha Stem Cell Clinics’ goals: the first is to accelerate the development of new stem cells therapies and the second is the achievement of a fiscally sustainable clinical activity. As the largest stem cell transplantation center in California, the City of Hope plan takes advantage of our clinical nursing expertise of the Day Hospital and of the business expertise that makes this out-patient transplant center sustainable.
Thus, the COH Alpha Clinic is an experiment in itself, testing whether this hybrid research unit is the best approach to introduction of new treatments to the clinic. CIRM funding has made it possible to bring the clinical staff together with the research staff in this way to accelerate development of stem cell research.