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Embryonic stem cell trial under way


A new age of medicine has started according to scientists after the first American trial to treat spinal injury patients with stem cells got under way.

Biopharmaceutical company Geron Corporation revealed the first patient ever to take part in such a test has begun the treatment.

Doctors will treat the patient with special cells designed to stimulate nerve growth.

The patient is paralysed, having suffered a severe spinal chord injury.

Scientist can grow oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in a laboratory after obtaining them from early-stage discarded human embryos.

These embryonic stem cells are able to develop into most forms of human tissue.

Previous studies have shown that injecting the progenitor cells into animals with acute spinal cord injuries can restore some degree of motor function.

In a statement Geron said the first patient was enrolled at the Shepherd Centre, a spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

To be eligible, participating patients must have a “complete grade A” thoracic spinal injury sustained not more than 14 days before receiving the treatment, known as GRNOPC1.

Several other centres in the US are also expected to contribute patients for the trial.

Copyright Press Association 2010


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