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First Patient Treated in U.S.-Approved Embryonic Stem Cell Trial
Date:10/12/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- The first patient to be treated in a U.S.-government-approved study involving human embryonic stem cells has been injected with millions of the potentially life saving cells.

The patient, being cared for at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, is partially paralyzed following a spinal cord injury. The center specializes in treating these types of injuries.

According to the trial's protocol, patients must receive the stem cell injection within 14 days of the injury. The trial only involves patients with spinal cord injuries.

"We've known about this for a long time, we've been waiting for it to happen and we hope it goes well. Definitely it's a step forward," said Susan L. Solomon, CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation.

Paul Sanberg, professor of neurosurgery and director of the
 University of South Florida Center for Aging and Brain Repair in Tampa, added: "Clearly this bodes well, in the sense of getting stem cells to the clinic, especially in spinal cord injury. This is a safety study, and once that continues, hopefully there will be good efficacy."

While many scientists and physicians are hailing the trial as a landmark, others have expressed some nervousness.

"There's a lot of angst around these trials," Evan Y. Snyder, director of the stem cell program at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in San Diego, told the Washington Post. "There's going to be this perception that if the cells do not perform well, the entire field will be illegitimate."

Spinal cord injuries are just one of several conditions and diseases that scientists hope can one day be treated, cured or prevented with stem cell therapy. Others include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's and diabetes.

Although researchers around the world have made strides in the field, until now, no clinical trials have gotten under way in
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