June 2012

Section 1

Peter's posits

Peter Donovan

Now is an exciting time to be working on stem cells. Our Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center colleagues Aileen Anderson and Brian Cummings have seen their groundbreaking translational research pass safety review testing in patients with spinal cord injuries – exciting and important news that represents an enormous milestone for the entire stem cell field.

In late May, Tom Lane, an immunologist and director of the UC Irvine Multiple Sclerosis Research Center, received a major grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, supporting research that we hope will one day result in a trial for stem cell-based treatments for multiple sclerosis. The work of other colleagues in our center also is producing positive results, warranting further investigation and additional sustained philanthropic support. As we go forward, I will update you on their progress.

In the meantime, we continue to go out into the community to explain our stem cell research and the promise it holds. In the last few weeks, several of us from the center attended Walk MS and the Team Hope walk for Huntington’s disease, both held at UCI. These events gave us a chance to highlight the work we are doing in connection with these diseases and to give back to the patient communities that give us so much moral support. We all share in the hope.
– Peter Donovan, director of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center

clinical trial news

Aileen Anderson and Brian Cummings

Doctors with the Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich have reported that a stem cell treatment developed in a collaboration among Aileen Anderson and Brian Cummings (pictured) with the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center and StemCells Inc. has passed the first planned interim safety review of the Phase I/II spinal cord injury clinical trial, which indicates that the surgery, immunosuppression and cell transplants have been well tolerated. The StemCells Inc.-sponsored trial is the only ongoing clinical study of neural stem cell transplantation in spinal cord injury. Enrollment is now open to patients in Europe, the U.S. and Canada with "incomplete" spinal cord injury. Read more about this promising news here.

Research News

Tom Lane

Tom Lane received a $4.8 million grant to create a new line of neural stem cells that can be used to treat multiple sclerosis. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine awarded Lane the grant on May 24 to support his early-stage translational research. Lane is also director of the UCI Multiple Sclerosis Research Center. His grant brings total CIRM funding for UCI to $76.65 million. Read more about this exciting news here.

Research Profile

Leslie Thompson

Leslie Thompson’s research gives hope to Huntington’s disease patients, for whom time is the enemy. Her research is one example of how Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center scientists are expanding our understanding of stem cell treatments. Read more about her promising work here.

More News & Views

  • UCI researchers Peter Donovan, Tom Lane and Henry Klassen appeared on PBS SoCal’s “Real Orange” show on May 3 to discuss stem cell research and breakthroughs in the areas of multiple sclerosis and retinitis pigmentosa.
  • The South Korean TV show “MBC Prime” will feature an interview with Peter Donovan, who spoke about the future of research. CIRM president Alan Trounson also appears on the show, which airs June 7.
  • Hans Keirstead, the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center scientist whose work formed the basis for the first FDA-approved clinical trial of human embryonic stem cells, spoke at Global Emerging Leaders Forum in New York City on April 12. He participated on a panel of the world’s leading innovators, philanthropists and business thought leaders who gathered to discuss global issues.
  • Henry Klassen’s lab signed an agreement with Gerhard Bauer, director of the Good Manufacturing Practice laboratory at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, to begin manufacturing human retinal progenitor cells, with the goal of generating cells suitable for use in clinical trials to reverse or prevent blindness caused by retinitis pigmentosa.

handy links

Learn more about stem cell basics here.
Learn more about stem cell research here.
Learn more about patient groups that support stem cell research and how you can get involved here.
Learn more about stem cell research in California here.


coming events

Friday, June 8 at 11 a.m.
“The politics of stem cells”
Sidney Golub, Ph.D.
Chair, Human Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee
UC Irvine
4th floor, Sue and Bill Gross Hall


Wednesday, Oct. 3
Stem Cell Awareness Day

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