ACT Aiming for Human Stem Cell Trials

Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), one of the oldest companies formed specifically to develop regenerative medicine, is setting up for another round of human trials based on its work: "it has asked for approval to test human embryonic stem cells in treating a rare cause of blindness. The company said it filed an IND, an investigational new drug application, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use the stem cells to treat patients with Stargardt's macular dystrophy. If approved, it would be the second U.S. approval to test human embryonic stem cells in human patients. ... ACT has previously reported it used human embryonic stem cells to make retinal cells. They have reversed blindness in rats. ... The treatment for eye disease uses stem cells to re-create a type of cell in the retina that supports the photoreceptors needed for vision. These cells, called retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), are often the first to die off in Stargardt's macular dystrophy. ... It has been over a decade since human embryonic stem cells were first discovered. The field desperately needs a big clinical success. After years of research and political debate, we're finally on the verge of showing the potential clinical value of embryonic stem cells. Our research clearly shows that stem cell-derived retinal cells can rescue visual function in animals that otherwise would have gone blind. We are hopeful that the cells will be similarly efficacious in patients."

Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE5AI3GD20091119

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