The Marcus Center for Cellular Cures is rooted in a deep tradition of translational cell therapy at Duke. Since the early 1990s, Joanne Kurtzberg, MD, has pioneered the use of umbilical cord blood as an alternative stem cell source for unrelated marrow transplantation.
Formally established in 2010 with a $10.2 million commitment from the Robertson Foundation, the center provides the administrative and laboratory-based infrastructure to conduct early clinical trials of cellular therapy products in both adult and pediatric populations.
The center includes:
- Cell Therapy Clinical Trials in traditional areas such as blood cancers and leukodystrophies, but also in new areas such as sickle cell anemia, brain injuries, cerebral palsy, stroke, and autism.
- Basic Research Labs to further understand the mechanistic pathways of cord blood and to develop donor-based, off-the-shelf cell products.
- A Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Facility – an ISO class 7 cell processing facility for advanced cell and tissue-based therapeutic products to be used in Phase I and II clinical studies.
- Quality Systems Unit – a team of six quality experts that ensure compliance with federal regulations and with requirements from accreditation agencies.
- The Carolinas Cord Blood Bank, the second largest biorepository for human cord blood in the U.S.
The Marcus Center for Cellular Cures is administered through the Duke Translational Research Institute. This allows investigators easy access to scientific and regulatory thought leaders who can provide guidance for clinical protocol design and regulatory strategy, as well as project management.