Fate Therapeutics Starts First Clinical Trial of Drug to Boost Stem Cell Transplants

5/27/09

Fate Therapeutics plans to announce this morning that it has begun its first clinical trial of a drug built on its knowledge of stem cell biology. Rather than injecting certain kinds of adult stem cells to regenerate tissues, this treatment involves a conventional small-molecule drug that’s designed to spur growth of blood-forming stem cells that patients need to recover from certain kinds of leukemia and lymphomas.

Xconomy reported in March that La Jolla, CA-based Fate—which was founded by top stem cell scientists at Harvard University, The Scripps Research Institute, the University of Washington, Stanford University, and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research—was destined to test its first drug in humans. But the company is now disclosing that the study will be done at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and provided more details on how its treatment could better the way hematopoietic stem cells from umbilical cord blood are transplanted into some cancer patients to restore their bone marrow function.

Fate’s drug, dubbed FT-1050, is a small molecule that the company plans to use to treat blood-forming stem cells from cord blood before the cells are transplanted into humans. By activating certain genes in the stem cells, the drug is intended to boost the ability of the cells to multiply and take up residence in bone marrow, Pratik Multani, vice president of clinical development at Fate, explains. The clinical trial is testing this use of the drug in patients with blood or immune system cancers whose bone marrow function—which is vital to blood production and the immune system—has been destroyed by chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.

Fate’s treatment was initially discovered in the lab of Leonard Zon, the director of stem cell research at Children’s Hospital Boston. Zon is one of several stem cell experts who was recruited by Polaris Venture Partners and … Next Page »

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  • Heidi

    This is really great news. Our stem cell research is way behind other countries.
    In addition to this, stem cell research for Emphysema and other serious lung problems needs to get underfoot also. Thousands of people are dying because stem cell research was not allowed by our previous Administration.