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First California patient treated in Geron's human embryonic stem cell trial

On Saturday, Stanford and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) treated the fourth of ten patients in Geron's trial of cells derived from human embryonic stem cells. The patient is the first on the West Coast to receive the treatment, which is intended to test the safety of the procedure in paralysis patients before moving into larger trials. Stanford neurosurgeon Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, implanted the cells.

From our release:

“We are extremely excited to participate in this landmark clinical trial,” said Steinberg, who is the Bernard and Ronni Lacroute-William Randolph Hearst Professor in Neurosurgery and Neurosciences at Stanford and the principal investigator of the Stanford/SCVMC portion of the trial. “It signifies a major advance in translating an innovative research discovery into clinical therapy. I believe it is critically important to encourage and take part in stem cell trials like this, which represent a new era in the effort to restore function for patients with stroke, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and other devastating neurologic disorders.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Stephen McKenna, MD, chief of the Rehabilitation Trauma Center at SCVMC. “It has been an extraordinarily collaborative process at every step, from developing the screening process and identifying possible patients to evaluating these patients for surgery,” McKenna said. “Although it’s been an intensive commitment of resources, we understand the importance of advancing new therapies for patients.”

The trial is being run by Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif., which developed and manufactures the cells being tested. In May, Geron received a $25 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to continue and extend the trial to include a greater proportion of spinal cord injuries.

The patient entered an intensive inpatient rehabilitation program at SCVMC and will be monitored for any adverse events to confirm that the cells are safe for use in humans.

Previously: Stanford joins first human embryonic stem cell trial
Photo of Steinberg by Mark Tuschman

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