Friday, September 14, 2018

California's $50 Million Alpha Network: Managing the Complexity of Stem Cell Clinical Trials

Clinical Leader, an online publication dealing with clinical trials, yesterday carried a piece exploring the $50 million Alpha Clinic program initiated by the California stem cell agency.

Written by Geoff Lomax, a senior officer at the agency for its strategic initiatives, the article discussed the complexity of stem cell clinical trials and the use of a network of high-powered medical centers to support the novel research and treatment, particularly involving the FDA's programs to speed use of some therapies. 

Lomax's concluding statement in the article said,
"(R)egenerative medicine therapies are treating and curing debilitating and deadly diseases. The FDA’s RMAT (regenerative medicine advanced therapy) and breakthrough designations have created a streamlined environment for product sponsors. To effectively leverage this regulatory policy environment, sponsors must conduct high-quality clinical trials that are often operationally complex.
"Clinical trial networks, capable of managing the array of regenerative medicine technologies, are well suited to manage this complexity. The CIRM Alpha Clinic network is a current highly functioning proof of the concept. Patients with unmet medical need and product sponsors will benefit from the replication of this model nationally and internationally."
The agency, formally known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine or CIRM, initiated the Alpha network in 2015. It has since enlarged the effort with a total of $50 million and locations at UC San Francisco, UC Davis, UCLA, UC Irvine, City of Hope and UC San Diego

The Clinical Leader piece said, 
"Recognizing this operational complexity and limitations in clinical experience, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) pioneered the development of infrastructure to support regenerative medicine clinical trials. Launched in 2015, the CIRM Alpha Clinics are a network of six California medical centers. The clinics conduct FDA-authorized and IRB approved clinical trials. The aim of the network is to achieve greater and more efficient results than the member organizations could if they acted independently. Each of the Alpha Clinics has formed teams with specialized knowledge and experience with regenerative medicine clinical research involving human cell and tissue products. These teams work across their respective centers. As of September 1, 2018, the network is supporting 49 clinical trials — and has supported 60 clinical trials since 2015 — across a range of indications."
Lomax continued,
"This network model of conducting therapeutically diverse clinical trials lies in contrast to the traditional disease-based clinical trial networks that tend to be located in specific clinical units – oncology, cardiology, neurology, etc. The Alpha Clinic teams are horizontally integrated across the centers, so they can support the diverse range of indications where regenerative medicine therapies are currently being evaluated. This technology-based approach facilitates the conduct of clinical trials, particularly in clinical units that may have limited experience with cell and gene therapy products."

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