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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Stem Cells Move Ahead – Public Word on One Member of Geron’s Clinical Trial for Spinal

News is out here and here on a paraplegic young man who is part of Geron’s first clinical trial on injecting stem cells to try to aid recovery from a devastating spinal cord injury injury suffered in a car accident. There are some ironies in the story as well. Young TJ was injured on the anniversary of the birthday of actor Christopher Reeve who, as most know, became a stem cell advocate following his own devastating injuries. TJ also is part of a Baptist family leaving in the deep south, and the story recounts a religious side to the decision to proceed. Here’s the science and hope part of the story:

Special teams trained

"After many delays, Geron finally persuaded the Food and Drug Administration last July to allow the company to study 10 patients. Geron spent months training special teams of doctors at seven secret sites around the country so that they could be ready to act quickly. The teams then had to wait for a patient who met the study’s strict criteria — someone who had been paralyzed from the chest down within the previous two weeks.

Surgeons planned to use specially designed equipment to infuse into the first patient’s spine about 2 million “oligodendrocyte progenitor” cells, which Geron scientists had created in the laboratory from embryonic stem cells obtained from days-old embryos left over from fertility treatments. The hope is that the cells will form a restorative sheath around the damaged spinal cord. In tests in hundreds of rats, partially paralyzed animals regained the ability to move, according to Geron."

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