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Stem Cell Inauguration

Last week witnessed two inaugurations, which could both be of massive importance for embryonic stem cell research. The first, the inauguration of President Barack Obama, will reduce restrictions on public funding for embryonic stem cell research in the US. The second inauguration saw the US Food and Drug Administration approve the use of cells derived from embryonic stem cells on patients.  It is, however, important to point out that the events are not linked, as the permission was granted to the biotech company Geron, which relies on private funding.Geron plan to begin a Phase I trial of the treatment this summer, in which patients paralyzed below the chest will be injected with spinal cells derived from embryonic stem cells. It is hoped that the introduction of these cells into the spinal cord within two weeks of the damage occurring, nerve cell growth will be stimulated and the damage reversed.If successful, this trial could mark the beginning of a new era in medicine; one in which all types of organs and tissues can be repaired by injecting cells derived from embryonic stem cells. Ethical objections remain though and there is also concern within the field that if there are any difficulties, or negative side effects experienced by the patients during the trial, embryonic stem cell research may not get an inaugural rerun.For more details regarding the trial, visit:www.geron.com
James Beggs

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