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

the United States.

The current Phase I trial, sponsored by Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif., is mainly looking at the safety of using embryonic stem cells in this context. If all goes well, later trials will assess the strategy's effectiveness.

In an announcement released Monday, Geron president and CEO Dr. Thomas B. Okarma said that "initiating [this] clinical trial is a milestone for the field of human embryonic stem cell-based therapies."

According to the company statement, another center, Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, is also enrolling patients for a similar trial.

In all, seven sites will be involved in the study, the Post reported.

Embryonic stem cell therapy has been a major source of controversy and political drama for years. Early in President George W. Bush's first term, his administration banned federal funding for research using newly created embryonic stem cells, citing ethical concerns that these cells represented viable human life.

That ban was overturned by the Obama administration, but in late August U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that federal funding of embryonic stem cell research did violate a 1996 law prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars for such work. The Obama administration appealed that decision.

Soon after, an appeals court issued a temporary suspension of the reinstituted ban until it could hear full arguments over the next few weeks.

In the wake of that stay, U.S. government officials announced that researchers at the National Institutes of Health would resume working with embryonic stem cells.

Meanwhile, results of a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll released last week found that a wide range of Americans, including Republicans, Catholics and born-again Christians, supported embryonic stem cell research. Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of the adults surveyed believe that scientists should be allowed to use embryonic stem cells left over from
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