Clinical Research


The institute for Cellular Therapeutics is directed by Suzanne T.  Ildstad, M.D., Jewish Hospital Distinguished Professor of Transplantation Research and Professor of Surgery.  Dr. Ildstad is one of the nation's leaders in the growing field of cellular therapeutics and is a pioneer in the expanded use of bone marrow transplantation to fight disease.

The clinical focus of the Institute is to develop therapeutic approaches for the successful and safe use of bone marrow transplantation (BMT) in the treatment of a number of diseases and conditions.  Successful implementation of this therapy has the potential to permanently treat genetic disorders like Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia in addition to a number of other rare childhood disorders, including Aplastic Anemia and a number of Enzyme Deficiencies.  It also has the potential to halt progression of autoimmune disorders such as MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and type 1 Diabetes and makes it possible to transplant organs and limbs without rejection or the need for anti-rejection medication.  In addition, it eliminates the need for a perfect genetic match when transplanting bone marrow to treat leukemia.

There are multiple clinical research trials in various stages at the Institute and collaborative sites across the U.S.  They include trials for the treatment of Sickle Cell Disease (pediatric and adult), Thalassemia, Aplastic Anemia and Multiple Sclerosis.  They also include reduced drug or drug-free tolerance trials for Heart, Kidney (living and deceased donor), Liver and Hand Transplants.

The Institute's Cell Processing Facility

The Institute for Cellular Therapeutics operates as one of the most sophisticated cell processing centers in the country.  Under the auspices of Dr. Suzanne Ildstad, Director, Dr. David Tollerud, Associate Director and Mary Jane Elliot, Cell Processing Facility Manager, an extensive processing facility has been developed for processing bone marrow stem cells from iliac crest, vertebral bodies and mobilized peripheral blood.  This facility is run according to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) guidelines, and will be the site of processing for all clinical trial sites.

What is Bone Marrow Transplantation?

Bone marrow is the body's factory for producing red blood cells and home to your immune system.  Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) for diseases such as leukemia is a medical procedure in which bone marrow that is producing malignant or malformed red blood cells is destroyed and replaced with healthy bone marrow from a donor.  In a successful transplant, the new bone marrow takes, or engrafts, and begins producing normal blood cells.

What makes this research different?

Discoveries made by Dr. Ildstad and her research team make it possible to safely transplant small amounts of healthy donor stem cells into patients suffering from a large number of diseases caused by malfunctioning bone marrow - including genetic blood disorders and autoimmune disease - without destroying it. The result is a twin immune system that corrects the disease process and, in the case of organ transplant, recognizes donated organs as "self."