Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trounson Proposes $70 Million, Fast-Track Stem Cell Clinic Plan for California

Alan Trounson, president of the California stem cell agency, this summer plans to seek $70 million for creation of what he calls Alpha Clinics, high-powered organizations that will fast-track stem cell therapies to patients.

The proposal is scheduled to come before CIRM board at its meeting in late July and would consume a significant slice of the $700 million to $800 million that the $3 billion agency has left to hand out.

Trounson broached the need for the clinics as far back as two years ago, but did not put a price tag on the concept until an interview published online late today in the Los Angeles Times. The interview will be carried in the print edition of the paper tomorrow.

In the Q&A session between Times columnist Patt Morrison and Trounson, he said, 
"I'm intending to set up a network of stem cell clinics in California in the next couple of years, to make treatments available as clinical trials or as registered treatments for patients. I'm going to ask the [CIRM] board for about $70 million to get that set up. It will make California a go-to place for stem cell therapies. I want to make sure it's part of our medical fabric."
In other media reports in previous years, Trounson has said the Alpha Clinics would speed delivery of stem cell-based therapies and reduce costs of clinical trials by building on the success of specialist cancer, transplant and in-vitro fertilization clinics.

Leigh Dayton wrote about Trounson's plan in The Australian last July 14. Dayton said,
“Initially the clinics would use the capacities and infrastructure in the most advanced university medical clinics to deliver bone-marrow stem cell therapies. As research evolves, so will the treatments and services offered.”
Trounson also discussed the Alpha Clinics during an appearance at USC in 2011. A university publication wrote,
"These clinics will initially serve to get patients into clinical trials or to offer sound advice to individuals who might otherwise go overseas to receive harmful stem cell therapies from disreputable clinics.
"'I’m willing to invest money to get these [clinics] up,' Trounson said. 'I think if nothing happens beyond 2017 and we don’t get any refunding, we can leave a footprint of stem cell clinics in California that will go on forever.'"
Trounson was not at last week's CIRM board meeting, but Ellen Feigal, senior vice president for research and development, said a white paper is being prepared on Alpha Clinics. She said a concept proposal would be brought to the board July 25 at a meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area. Once the board approves the concept, the staff will then prepare and post the RFA.

Interested parties can address suggestions or questions to Feigal at info@cirm.ca.gov.


  1. Anonymous8:23 PM

    Too soon! What will the clinics do while the FDA considers stem cell therapies?
    That will take another couple of years at least...it would be better to invest in an advisory group- like the UK's Catapult- that would help CIRM researchers through the FDA process.

  2. Anonymous10:10 PM

    Let me guess- Irv Weissman will be in charge of these clinics...

  3. Anonymous1:34 AM

    At last week's meeting did Calimmune announce the first dosing of patients with Cal-1? I missed the presentation online due to technical problems but I would be interested to know the answer to this question.

    1. Re the Calimmune question, CIRM spokesman Kevin McCormack responded jiffy quick on it. He said, "No they didn't. They are still in the early stages of the trial and haven't dosed any patients yet."

  4. Anonymous9:30 AM

    Thank you David. I appreciate the update.

  5. Judy Roberson, HD patient advocate11:31 PM

    Taxpayers and patients need to see proof that stem cell therapies are on their way... the alpha clinic proposal by Dr. Trounson will be taken as a sign that this research has real potential for changing medicine. As Dr. Jan Nolta has said (I paraphrase), "people will look back at this time in medicine and remark how barbaric the treatments were." For those of us in the Huntington's disease community, there is not one treatment available. Eating blueberries is the best we have. Thank you CIRM for giving us hope! Cannot wait to see what the future holds!


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