Cross-posted from Nature Medicine’s Spoonful of Medicine blog
An embryonic field seems to be developing rapidly. Just two months after Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) launched the second and third trials involving products derived from human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in an operating room at the University of California, Los Angeles, the Santa Monica-based biotech announced today that it had gained approval from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to conduct the first ESC trial outside the United States.
“This is extremely significant,” Robert Lanza, ACT’s chief scientific officer, told Nature Medicine. “This is the first time there’s been an embryonic-stem-cell-therapy trial anywhere else in the world.”
The trial will essentially be a repeat performance of one of ACT’s ongoing trials in the United States, but this time conducted at the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. Led by Moorfields ophthalmologist James Bainbridge, the trial, which is scheduled to begin before the end of the year, will use retinal cells derived from ESCs to treat 12 people with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, a progressive juvenile vision-loss disorder that affects about one in every 10,000 children.