Alpha Clinic Research Highlights

stem cells
The lead clinical trials that are part of the City of Hope Alpha Stem Cell Clinic include:


Altering hematopoietic stem cells to fight HIV/AIDS

A team of investigators at City of Hope work with Sangamo Therapeutics to edit a single gene in the HIV patient’s blood stem cells that is needed by the virus for infection. They use an enzyme called a zinc-finger nuclease, which acts as a pair of molecular scissors, and edits/disrupts the CCR5 gene. The T cells resulting from the genetically modified stem cells will then lack this key protein that is required by the virus to infect cells. (COH Protocol #14017)


Neural stem cells to help target cancer drugs

Karen Aboody, M.D., professor in the Department of Developmental and Stem Cell Biology and Division of Neurosurgery and co-leader of the Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Program, in collaboration with Jana Portnow, M.D., associate clinical professor of medical oncology and associate director of the Brain Tumor Program, have used neural stem cells (NSC) to build a platform to selectively target cancer drugs to tumor sites, potentially increasing efficacy and decreasing side effects. This NSC treatment platform will be available through clinical trials offered by the City of Hope Alpha Stem Cell Clinic.

In previous laboratory and first-in-human safety trials, Aboody and her team established that NSCs can migrate to brain tumor sites and can be genetically modified to express a therapeutic enzyme. This enzyme could then convert a prodrug — an inactive form of a drug — into a potent cancer-killing drug at the tumor site. Additionally, the prodrug can cross the blood-brain barrier which blocks most chemotherapy drugs, one of the challenges of treating brain cancers. (COH Protocols #13401 and #14108)


CAR T cell for cancer therapy

T cells are part of the immune system that fights and kills cancer cells; however, as cancers progress, they become resistant to the T cell immunity. Researchers are exploring treating a variety of cancers using an approach that genetically modifies the patient’s T cells to recognize and kill a cancer. Patients have their T cells collected from the blood, modified to recognize tumors, expanded to large numbers and then infused. Upon reinfusion back into the patient, the modified T cells should be able to identify cancer cells and control the cancer. The City of Hope Alpha Stem Cell Clinic will eventually help advance T cell immunotherapies being developed for a number of cancers. (COH Protocols #13384 and #13272).
View a complete list of all clinical trials that are part of the City of Hope Alpha Stem Cell Clinic.

For more information about this program, please call 626-218-8330 or email