City of Hope Hosts Second California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Alpha Stem Cell Clinics Symposium

Scientists, clinicians and patients discuss advancements in stem cell therapies

DUARTE, Calif.--()--The stories of patients who have benefited from stem cell therapies funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) will be highlighted at the second symposium of the institute’s Alpha Stem Cell Clinics Network on Thursday, March 23, at City of Hope.

CIRM, the state’s stem cell agency, has developed a network of Alpha Stem Cell Clinics that are focused on innovative stem cell-based therapies. The network, which consists of three clinics located at City of Hope, UCSD, and UCLA/UC Irvine, will showcase its most successful clinical trials at the daylong symposium.

Scientists, clinicians, patient advocates, and business and insurance experts, as well as CIRM and City of Hope representatives, are hosting the meeting to address various aspects of making more stem cell therapies a reality for patients.

“CIRM’s Alpha Clinics are working day in and day out to find cures for such debilitating diseases as glioblastoma, leukemia and other cancers, as well as blinding eye diseases, spinal cord injuries, HIV, hemophilia, diabetes and other catastrophic conditions for which there are no current cures,” said John A. Zaia, M.D., the Aaron D. Miller and Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy, who is also director of the Center for Gene Therapy and principal investigator of City of Hope’s Alpha Stem Cell Clinic. “This symposium brings us together to share the advancements we’ve made in delivering stem cell treatments to patients, and to discuss how we can accelerate their development.”

Highlights of “Alpha Clinics: Making the Future a Reality for Stem Cell-Based Therapies”

  • City of Hope researchers recently reported the successful treatment of a patient with recurrent multifocal glioblastoma – the most aggressive form of brain cancer - using a novel type of immunotherapy named chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy. As part of the clinical trial, a 50-year-old man, who had not responded to standard therapy, was treated with CAR-T cells, prepared by genetically modifying his own T cells. The modified cells were delivered directly into the brain and the ventricular space, shrinking the patient’s brain and spinal tumors. City of Hope’s Behnam Badie, M.D., chief of neurosurgery and director of the Brain Tumor Program, and Christine Brown, Ph.D., Heritage Provider Network Professor in Immunotherapy and associate director of the T Cell Therapeutics Research Laboratory, will join other panelists to discuss their work and its potential to help other brain cancer patients at a session titled “Deliverables - CAR-T Cell Therapy – City of Hope Alpha Clinic.”
  • Kristin Macdonald, the first patient treated in a CIRM-funded stem cell trial for retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a rare disease that destroys vision, and Henry Klassen, M.D., an associate professor of ophthalmology at UCI who developed the treatment, will discuss how this research is helping improve the vision of patients, many of whom were considered legally blind. Macdonald received a stem cell transplant into her left eye and gained back some of her sight. Macdonald and Klassen will speak at a panel titled “Deliverables – Stem Cell Therapies for Loss of Vision – UCLA/UCI Alpha Clinic.”
  • The symposium will also feature keynote presentations by patient advocates such as Pat Furlong, founding president of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, who will discuss removing stakeholder barriers to stem cell therapy. Rachel Salzman, D.V.M., of The Stop ALD Foundation, a non-profit medical research organization seeking effective therapies for X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), an often fatal brain disease, will speak about bringing patients, the medical industry, principal investigators and regulators together to find a cure for ALD.

Registration starts at 7 a.m. There will be a welcome address at 8 a.m. with panels concluding at 5 p.m. View the schedule here.

About City of Hope

City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as one of only 47 comprehensive cancer centers, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the world. City of Hope is located in Duarte, California, just northeast of Los Angeles, with community clinics throughout Southern California. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation, diabetes and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs based on technology developed at the institution. For more information about City of Hope, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.


City of Hope
Letisia Marquez, 626-218-3398

Release Summary

Patients who have benefited from stem cell therapies funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) will be highlighted at the Alpha Stem Cell Clinics Network symposium.


City of Hope
Letisia Marquez, 626-218-3398