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Human stem cell research

Major events during 2011

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News items:

2011-JUN-17: Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) enrolls patients in human stem cell trial:

Two groups of twelve patients are being enrolled in clinical trials involving treatment for two retinal diseases that cause progressive devestating loss of vision:

  • Stargardt disease, a form of macular degeration that affects young persons.

  • Dry age-related macular degeneration (Dry AMD), that affects many older patients.

The trials will be held at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

Stephen Rose, Ph.D., chief research officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness. said:

"It’s exciting to see that ACT has started enrolling patients in these groundbreaking studies for the development of stem cell therapies. ACT’s treatments focus on dry AMD, which affects more than eight million people age 50 and over, and Stargardt disease, which robs children and young adults of vision and for which there is no treatment or cure. Stem cells have the potential to restore vision in people with the most advanced retinal disease."

The expected trials involve transforming human embryonic stem cells into retianal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. The latter:

"... provide essential support for photoreceptors, the cells that provide vision. By placing healthy RPE cells in the retina, researchers believe they can save photoreceptors and slow or halt vision loss." 1

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2011-NOV-14: Geron halts trial of human embryonic stem cells:

In 2010, Geron -- a company based in Melno Park, CA -- started the first ever clinical trials using human embryonic stem cells. They have decided to terminate the trial and abandon the field of stem cells entirely. This was caused by the scarcety of funding. They have decided to concentrate their resources on cancer therapies which are further along in development.

The initial experiments with stem cells were performed in paralized rats. They showed tremendous promise for the technique. The first trials on humans concentrated on proving that the treatment was safe. This seems to have been accomplished. 2

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Related essays on this web site:

Cloning and stem cell research are unrelated lines of research. However, they both start with an ovum and initially use some of the same techniques.

bullet When does human personhood begin?
bullet Human cloning
bullet Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis
bullet Therapeutic cloning

References used in the above essay:

  1. "First Patients Enrolled in Stem Cell Clinical Trials for Stargardt Disease and AMD," Foundation Fighting Blindness, 2011-JUN-17, at:
  2. Andrew Pollack, "Geron Is Shutting Down Its Stem Cell Clinical Trial," New York Times, 2011-NOV-14, at:

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Copyright 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2014-JAN-31
Latest update: 2014-JAN-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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