The CIRM Alpha Stem Cell Clinic (ASCC) was created at City of Hope in March 2015 with the goal of enabling researchers to bring stem cell treatments to fruition. The clinic currently supports 17 active clinical trials of stem cell-based therapies, including:
• 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
• T cell immunotherapy trials to treat patients with hematological or solid tumor cancers
• Correction of hemophilia B by genetic editing of liver stem cells
• Use of selected and expanded T cells to attack cancer stem cells and treat cancer
The City of Hope ASCC is implemented in a dedicated outpatient clinic in the City of Hope Day Hospital. In this setting, the novel research treatments are being done by clinical nurses rather than by research nurses working in a separate clinical research unit, as is normally done. This allows the new stem cell treatment to be evaluated in the actual site where, if successful, it will become standard treatment.
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. This has worked well, and the City of Hope ASCC team has grown significantly in the second year of funding, now includes study coordinators, regulatory staff, a patient care coordinator, and other personnel.
Thus, the COH Alpha Clinic is an experiment in itself, as it tests whether this hybrid research unit, in which a nurse must have research and clinical skills, is the best approach to introduction of new stem cell treatments to the clinic. CIRM funding has made it possible to bring clinical and research staff together, and in this way to accelerate development of stem cell research.