The United States has not been that welcoming of stem cell therapy, particularly the kind that makes use of embryonic cells, so this Los Angeles Times news report about the “world’s first clinical trial of a therapy derived from human embryonic stem cells” is quite interesting.
The “world’s first” eh? We kind of doubt that. Maybe the world’s first “publicized” clinical trial is more appropriate. We won’t be surprised if other scientists in other nations have been doing trials like this the past several years.
Anyhoo, here’s the Los Angeles Times:
Researchers announced Monday that they had injected stem cells into a patient with a spinal cord injury on Friday, kicking off the world’s first clinical trial of a therapy derived from human embryonic stem cells.
The patient was treated at Shepherd Center, a spinal cord and brain injury center in Atlanta.
Though the trial, run by Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif., is in its earliest stages — aimed primarily at testing the treatment for safety — the event stands as a landmark one for embryonic stem cell researchers, who for years have studied the cells’ potential to treat spinal cord injuries, diabetes and a variety of neurodegenerative diseases.
“All of that work, all of that money sent to the ivory towers is manifesting something. It’s a real shot in the arm for the field,” said Hans Keirstead, a neurobiologist at the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at UC Irvine who led a team that pioneered the treatment in rats and licensed the technology to Geron.
The Los Angeles Times reports that 10 people will take part in the Shepherd Center trial. Other similar trials are planned at the Northwestern University near Chicago as well as seven other centers.
Researchers will be reportedly “waiting with bated breath every day” of the trial to see how this treatment will fare and whether it has any any side effects, such as signs of tumor growth or pain.
Geron Shuts Down Embryonic Stem Cell Trial
15 January 2012
In November last year, Geron decided to stop its stem cell trials blaming the current world economic crisis which makes it hard for the company to raise money to continue further research.
Here’s what Geron’s Chief Executive Officer John Scarlett said about their decision:
“In the current environment of capital scarcity and uncertain economic conditions, we intend to focus our resources on advancing our Phase 2 clinical trials of imetelstat and GRN1005. These two novel and promising oncology drug candidates target major unmet medical needs and have important clinical development milestones occurring over the next 20 months. By narrowing our focus to the oncology therapeutic area, we anticipate having sufficient financial resources to reach these important near-term value inflection points for shareholders without the necessity of raising additional capital. This would not be possible if we continue to fund the stem cell programs at the current levels.”