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Stem cell trial for stroke begins


A safety trial of a stem cell therapy for stroke has enrolled its first patient, the UK company developing the treatment announced today.

Surrey-based ReNeuron’s treatment will transplant neural stem cells into the brains of stroke patients, in hopes of promoting the renewal of damaged areas. The firm won approval for the trial of 12 patients last year, after establishing that the therapy is safe and effective in rat models of stroke.

Scientists at the University of Glasgow are leading the trial, which will test the safety of a variety of cell doses, as well as track the effectiveness of the treatment for at least two years. It is the first stem cell trial to be approved in the UK.

Elsewhere, other stem cell trials are already underway or set to begin. The most talked about is Geron Corporation’s embryonic stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury, which treated its first patient last month and plans enrol up to 9 more. Yesterday, an American firm, StemCells Inc, announced plans to conduct a neural stem cell trial for spinal cord injuries in Switzerland, according to Reuters. Various kinds of stem cells are already being tested as therapies for multiple sclerosis and other conditions.

Less openly, doctors in China, Russia, the Caribbean and elsewhere are offering poorly regulated, sometimes illegal, stem cell treatments to patients with conditions such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. The International Society for Stem Cell Research has repeatedly called for tougher regulation of stem cell treatments.

Image of differentiated neural stem cells used in stroke trial courtesy of ReNeuron.


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