Biotech Co: First Human Embryonic Stem Cell Trial Hit Small Speed Bump

By Allison Bond | August 28, 2009 3:55 pm

spineA week-and-a-half after the first-ever human clinical embryonic stem cell trial was put on hold, Geron Corp. announced why: microscopic cysts that arose in laboratory animals but did not spread to other locations in the animals’ bodies.

In January, the FDA granted the company permission to begin using its stem cell treatment on patients with spinal cord injuries–but then the trial was delayed before the first patient could be enrolled. Although cysts developed occasionally during previous animal trials, they occurred more frequently in the more recent experiment. Geron was quick to point out, however, that the cysts were small and did not appear to be harmful in any way. In fact, the statement pointed out, cysts are not uncommon in victims of spinal cord injury, developing in the spinal cord scar tissue in up to 50% of patients [The Scientist]. In addition, the cysts did not develop into teratomas, a type of tumor that develops from pluripotent stem cells.

Geron said the company is working with the FDA to investigate the issue, and company officials are confident that the trial will soon be back on track. The FDA offered no comment regarding Geron’s announcement, saying they “neither confirm nor comment on clinical holds” [The Scientist].

Related Content:
80beats: FDA Approves the First Clinical Trials Using Embryonic Stem Cells
80beats: GE Plans to Use Human Embryonic Stem Cells as Lab Rats
80beats: Adult Mouse Gets a New Tooth, Grown From Embryonic Cells

Image: iStockPhoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • Raul Pedraza

    Godspeed GERON my fellow paraplegics have a lot riding on your research. Thank You President Obama for having singed the executive order that is making all of this HOPE possible. My fellow disabled veterans are praying for success here soon. Obamanos!

  • sam

    And damn that dog… bush for delaying everything..Obama is god sent

  • Ian

    How does this serve humanity, when humanity is serving science?

  • Prem Das

    Lets get things in perspective. Humans are possibly the only life form that is so UNthreatened in the whole Universe. So be prepared to take the damned risk. Let us stop this cruel animal tests.

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