May 24, 2024

Is Geron’s embryonic stem cell trial the dawn of a new age?

Embryonic stem cells used for world-first treatment

Doctors in the US have performed the
world’s first treatment using embryonic stem cells, injecting the cells into a
patient’s damaged spinal cord at an Atlanta hospital. One researcher described
the development as a new age in medicine. The results of the procedure are
being awaited around the world by doctors and scientists hoping that ESCs can be
used both safely and effectively.

Chris Mason, a professor of regenerative
medicine at the University College London, says that if the treatment is a
success, it could be a very significant breakthrough. “There is no doubt
that this is the dawn of the stem cell age,” he said.

However, even leading stem cell scientists
are holding their breath. “I wish this brave patient well,” said George Q.
Daley, of the Harvard Medical School. “There are a lot of people who want
to do everything they can to get better,” Daniel Heumann, a paraplegic on
the board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, told the Washington
Post. “God bless them if they want to take the risk to do this. I give
them all the respect in the world. Without risk, there is no reward.”

The project has been privately funded by
Geron Corporation, which has
15 years and more than US$150 million to develop the
treatment. Phase one of this trial is only to discover whether the treatment is
safe to use, and Geron will have to conduct more trials in coming years to find
whether it is effective in repairing injuries to the spinal cord. ~ ABC News,
Oct 12, Mercury
News, Jul 7

Jared Yee
clinical trials
embryonic stem cells