The state stem cell agency awarded $3.7 million to City of Hope National Medical Center million to conduct stem cell research targeting glioblastoma, the hospital announced June 28.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine awarded the grant to City of Hope to develop a clinical trial that would genetically alter the blood stem cells of glioblastoma patients to allow them to tolerate side effects of chemotherapy.

The treatment would also allow higher doses of the invasive therapy to treat a type of brain cancer in which the median survival rate is 15 months, researchers said.

“We expect that this will lead to greater tumor-killing potential,” said Dr. John Zaia, director of the Center for Gene Therapy at the Duarte-based medical center, in a statement.

“With fewer side effects,” he said, “we are hopeful that this strategy will produce a better quality of life and improved overall survival for glioblastoma patients, who are currently faced with few treatment options.”

The $3.68 million grant will be used to perform late-stage preclinical research that would allow City of Hope to obtain the go-ahead from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to start a phase 1 clinical trial in 2019.

Last fall, the stem cell agency awarded City of Hope $12.8 million to conduct a CAR-T clinical trial on patients with aggressive brain cancer, including glioblastoma. The immunotherapy reengineers a patient’s immune cells to seek out and kill the cancer.

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