Stem Cells in the News

British scientists will apply this year to start patient trials of an embryonic stem-cell therapy for the commonest cause of blindness. If approved, the study will be the second of its kind, after US regulators last week cleared the first human trial of the powerful master cells. The US decision to approve the trial of a paralysis treatment by the Geron Corporation will open the way for a team at University College London to test a similar therapy for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) on patients.

Embryonic stem cells are master cells found in human embryos that give rise to all the specialised tissues in the body. They have exciting medical potential as a source of replacement tissue for treating disease or injury, though their use is controversial because they involve the destruction of human embryos. The Geron trial, which will begin in the summer, will be the first to test on patients a therapy based on embryonic stem cells. It will investigate the safety and effectiveness of injecting specialised spinal cells grown from the master tissue into people paralysed from the chest down.


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