First in Nation to Treat Spinal Cord Injury Patient With 20 Million Stem Cells

Tweet Share Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on  Cutting Edge of Research and Stem Cell Science
Santa Clara County, CA – Five days ago, physicians and researchers at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC), in partnership with Stanford Medicine, reached a historic milestone in stem cell clinical research. It is the first center in the nation to administer 20 million stem cells to an individual with a spinal cord injury. 
This study is the first of its kind in the United States and is a result of SCVMC’s commitment to advancing patient care by conducting clinical research.  This groundbreaking research project is one of several cutting edge clinical projects being conducted at the Rehabilitation Research Center in conjunction with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
“We have been a front-runner in clinical research aimed at curing paralysis and we feel it is important to find the most effective dose of cells to maximize the potential recovery for our patients,” said Dr. Stephen McKenna, Chief of the Rehabilitation Trauma Center at SCVMC. “The earlier results from the 10 million cell group were quite encouraging and we look forward to seeing the results in patients from the higher 20 million cell dose.”
As part of the SCiStar clinical trial at SCVMC, the dose escalation to 20 million cells was based on the continued favorable safety profile observed in this ongoing clinical study. SCVMC has also contributed to the safety data from the prior 2 million cell and 10 million cell dose treatments reviewed by the FDA which resulted in the approval to proceed with the dose escalation to 20 million cells. 
The current participant is the second patient at SCVMC to be treated in the SCiStar trial during the past 6 months. In total, SCVMC has completed 4 successful surgeries injecting stem cells into the spinal cord of recently injured patients. By performing the 20 million stem cell procedure and continuing its commitment to advancing stem cell research, SCVMC is one of the leading medical centers conducting stem cell research.
“Patients with disabling spinal cord injuries desperately need options to improve their quality of life,” said Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, professor and chair of neurosurgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the chief surgeon for the procedure. “Our previous results indicate that stem cell therapy is safe, and we will be monitoring recipients closely for any signs of improved neurologic function.”
“While we understand how to manage the unique challenges of spinal cord injury, this trial is another step forward in applying stem cell therapy to patients, “said James Crew, M.D., Chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at SCVMC. “While we are not able to reverse paralysis in patients, if this remarkable study delivers even modest advances, it could result in meaningful improvements in quality of life.”
The field of stem cell research has the potential to regenerate new tissues and organs, and holds the potential to revolutionize the way human diseases are treated. For individuals who have sustained a recent spinal cord injury, researchers are investigating whether stem cells might be able to restore some level of neurological function by replacing damaged neural connections.  
"We are applying emerging insights to evaluate new approaches in treating spinal cord injury through clinical trials. Our patients are asking for treatments to be translated from the laboratory bench to clinical bedside right now and we are doing everything possible to make this happen," said Dr. Linda Isaac, Director of the Rehabilitation Research Center.  
All clinical trial participants must be patients who are admitted to SCVMC. Professionals are invited to refer patients for assessment to determine whether they are appropriate for admission. To determine if a patient meets the clinical trial’s eligibility criteria, please visit and search for “AST-OPC1” or “NCT02302157” for the most up-to-date inclusion and exclusion criteria.
About Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is a comprehensive acute care public hospital system and Level 1 Trauma Center located in San Jose, California, the heart of Silicon Valley. SCVMC also offers a wide-range of specialty services and includes a large network of primary care clinics. Along with its nationally recognized and accredited Rehabilitation Center, Burn Center, Trauma Center, and other specialized programs and services, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center provides high quality and compassionate care to patients and their families. Please visit for more information.

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