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DUARTE, Calif. — The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) board has awarded City of Hope $3.7 million to develop a phase 1 clinical trial for glioblastoma patients that will genetically engineer their stem cells to better tolerate chemotherapy’s side effects, allowing them to receive higher doses of the therapy.

Grant funds will be used to set up and obtain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start the clinical trial. The project includes manufacturing of clinical-grade stem cells and improving the therapy’s effectiveness and safe use in patients. The trial is expected to start in 2019 at City of Hope and three other cancer centers.

“By genetically altering blood stem cells, we can protect them from the side effects of the chemotherapy given to glioblastoma patients, which will allow them to receive more treatments. We expect that this will lead to greater tumor-killing potential,” said John Zaia, M.D., the grant’s principal investigator, Aaron D. Miller and Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy and director of City of Hope’s Center for Gene Therapy. “With fewer side effects, we are hopeful that this strategy will produce a better quality of life and improved overall survival for glioblastoma

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