With new multimillion-dollar grants, UCLA scientists take stem cell research to patients

Posted: December 18, 2013 at 10:41 am



Contact: Shaun Mason smason@mednet.ucla.edu 310-206-2805 University of California - Los Angeles

Scientists from UCLA are now bringing their groundbreaking stem cell science directly to patients in two exciting new clinical trials scheduled to begin in early 2014, thanks to funding from California's stem cell agency.

The new grants to researchers at UCLA's Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, which total nearly $21 million, were announced Dec. 12 at a meeting of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Citizen's Oversight Committee. They are apart of the state agency's Disease Team Therapy Development III initiative.

A team led by UCLA's Dr. Dennis Slamon and Dr. Zev Wainberg was awarded nearly $7 million for a clinical trial that will test a new drug targeting cancer stem cells, and UCLA's Dr. Donald Kohn received almost $14 million for a clinical trial that will focus on stem-cell gene therapy for sickle cell disease.

"The CIRM support demonstrates that our multidisciplinary center is at the forefront of translating basic scientific research into new drug and cellular therapies that will revolutionize medicine," said Dr. Owen Witte, director of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center.

Dennis Slamon and Zev Wainberg: Targeting solid tumor stem cells

This clinical trial builds on Slamon's previous work, partially funded by CIRM, with Wainberg and Dr. Tak Mak, director of the Campbell Family Institute at the University Health Network in Toronto, aimed at developing a drug that targets those stem cells thought to initiate solid cancer tumors.

The AmericanCanadian collaborative team will lead this first in-human Phase 1 trial testing their new therapy, which has received investigational new-drug approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada, Canada's therapeutic regulatory agency. The project has been approved to begin enrolling patients in both the U.S. and Canada.

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With new multimillion-dollar grants, UCLA scientists take stem cell research to patients

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