Dr. Stephen Huhn, Stem Cell Inc.

Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial of HuCNS-SC Cells in Chronic SCI

As a neurosurgeon I have a different perspective when it comes to translating . . . what I know is that it takes a village — basic science, academic institutions, regulatory bodies, advocacy groups, (and others I missed) to get this done.  Clinically, there are transplants you can’t do.  You can’t do a brain transplant.  But there’s a long history of transplantations beginning with the kidney in 1954 and going through hearts, livers, lungs, and to a full face in 2010.

There’s a long list of central nervous system diseases that might be cured with stem cell transplants.  What gets everyone excited about stem cells is that they’re self-renewing and able to differentiate in ways that you can define .  . seems like sound footing for a potential therapy.  SCI has captured our imagination for a long time, partly because the injuries occur in young people, partly because the target is just a few inches.

I work at publicly traded biotech company. They have four ongoing trials. The first is when they put up to a billion cells into the brains of children with a fatal disease.  Three of the children have passed, and their parents have allowed his group to examine their brains and find out that the cells survived and did no harm.

The 2nd trial was another fatal myelination disorder that happens in children and can be diagnosed within hours of birth.  They used MRI techniques to find signs of myelination, (which matters to us because de-myelination is a problem for SCI).

The 3rd trial is for chronic SCI, being done at the University of Zurich.

It’s open label, they get a single dose of 20 million cells and do immunosuppression for 9 months.  They have 12 patients with T2 – T11 injuries.  The patients were 3 – 12 months post-injury.  They have 3 Asia A, 4 Asia B, and 5 Asia C.  They do a super fine sensory/motor test before the transplants to be sure they’re measuring meaningful change.

They did transplants last fall on all three of the Asia A patients.  Cells introduced at the margins of the injury, above and below with a very tiny needle, two places each.

Safety profile at 6 months:  All good.  No increased pain.

Any gains in sensory?  In 2 of them, yes.

1st patient was a t-8, 23 yr old male. Asia A . . . there was no sensory change in him.

2nd patient regained significant sensation as measured by electric and heat.

3rd patient 45 yr old male ASIA A, got back sensation.  Interesting that they’re not depending on patient reporting of sensation, but on measurable electrophysiological results.

So . . . no safety issues, which was the point. How to interpret this data?  It’s encouraging. They’re going ahead with the Asia B cohort, and the trial will be open to patients not just from Europe.

When we look back 20 years from now, this will probably seem very crude — but it’s very important that we’re doing it.  With each trial that we do, we’ll learn more.

And you can learn more about this trial, track its outcomes, and consider enrolling here.

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One Comment on “Dr. Stephen Huhn, Stem Cell Inc.”

  1. […]  Well, that has to be hearing Dr. Stephen Huhn of Stem Cells Inc describe clinical trials on SCI chronics, happening right now in […]

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