You can’t say “it ain’t rocket science” about stem cell research.
Getting any one of our CIRM funded projects to clinical trials will be based on years of intelligent, dedicated research by scores of scientists supported by the funding needed to do the work (see our progress on therapies here). But you could argue that reaching clinical trials is the easy part.
Establishing an infrastructure for shepherding safe, well-designed, effective stem cell therapies through clinical trials and eventually into routine medical practice is incredibly complex. Stem cell-based therapy represents a completely new way of treating disease and so we need a new way of administering those therapies and following up to make sure they are safe in people. It’s going to require a coordinated network of hospitals, clinicians, scientists, clinical trial and regulatory experts, cell manufacturers and patient advocates to name just a few.
In an interview last week with the LA Times, President Alan Trounson spoke about an alpha stem cell clinics initiative that CIRM is spearheading to address the challenges of delivering stem cell therapies to patients (read our blog about the Trounson interview here). The initiative which will be brought to the CIRM governing board in July is detailed in CIRM’s Alpha Stem Cell Clinics white paper report, now available on our website.
The white paper report is based on the cumulative feedback of over 70 stem cell therapy stakeholders who convened at CIRM’s Alpha Stem Cell Clinics workshop last November in Palo Alto, Ca. We had our video cameras on hand to interview some of the participants. The four minute edited video above gives a quick behind-the-scenes glimpse of what went on at the workshop (you can also view it on our website). A vibe of excitement among the interviewees was very noticeable during the two-day meeting. I think John Wagner, M.D., director of the bone marrow transplant program at the University of Minnesota, summed it up very well:
The reason why we’re developing or thinking about developing alpha clinics is because the fact that we believe that stem cells have the capacity to revolutionize the practice of medicine. And we’re so committed to making this happen in the correct way that the idea of really creating a new way of delivering this cell therapy and monitoring the patients the way we think need to be monitored. This makes it an exciting meeting to be able to address this and hopefully lead the world in how we’re going to deliver such therapies.