HomeHealthMedicineUC San Diego receives $8 million CIRM funding to expedite stem cell...

UC San Diego receives $8 million CIRM funding to expedite stem cell therapy clinical trials

Stem cells hold particular promise in treating diseases for which few other effective treatments exist. In these therapies, stem cells are introduced into the body where they develop into specialized cells that repair, repair, replace or regenerate cells damaged by the disease.

As part of a nationwide effort to advance stem cell therapies, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) awarded $8 million to the UC San Diego Alpha Stem Cell Clinic. The funding will support the clinic’s mission to make new stem cell-based therapies available to patients with difficult-to-treat diseases.

The Alpha Clinics -; named because it is the first of their kind -; is a network of clinics across the state of California designed to bridge the gap between stem cell research and clinical application. The system brings together clinical, research, regulatory and administrative teams to accelerate clinical trials and streamline the patient experience.

We’re trying to change the way we do medicine. The Alpha Clinic is helping academic and industry experts join forces to bring world-class technologies directly to patients.”

Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, director of the UC San Diego Alpha Stem Cell Clinic and chief of the division of regenerative medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine

The grant is part of a series of recent CIRM awards totaling $72 million to expand the Alpha Clinics network. UC San Diego was one of three founding institutions when the project started in 2015. The new funding will expand the program to nine locations across the state.

In the seven years since its inception, the UC San Diego Alpha Stem Cell Clinic has launched 59 clinical trials and treated 277 patients with novel therapies for neurodegeneration, diabetes and various cancers. The trials largely test cell, gene and immunotherapies developed through growing partnerships between UC San Diego and local biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

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Recent milestones include the completion of a Phase I study using neural stem cells to treat spinal cord injury, with patients showing improved motor function post-treatment, as well as U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a Phase III registry trial of a monoclonal antibody targeting blood cancer stem cells.

The latest funding will help expand clinical trials at both La Jolla and Hillcrest Medical Centers and establish a Clinical Fellowship program to train additional physicians in advanced regenerative medicine therapies.

Another important goal of the clinic is to improve accessibility and awareness of stem cell science. A portion of the funding will go toward new patient education programs and efforts to make treatments more accessible to historically underserved communities in San Diego and Imperial Counties.

“Patients come to us when nothing else has worked, so we’re thrilled to be able to bring new treatments to our community that aren’t available in other parts of the country,” said Jamieson. “The Alpha Clinics’ highly collaborative infrastructure will help us develop and validate high-quality stem cell therapies at an unprecedented speed, and the effects will be seen throughout California and beyond.”

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