FDA OKs first human trials using embryonic stem cells

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CHICAGO – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that a California-based company can begin the nation’s first human clinical trials using embryonic stem cells.

Geron Corp. will this year begin such cells in a clinical trial of spinal cord patients. If Geron’s trials are successful, it opens the door to new therapies and drug discoveries that many believe the Bush administration stymied because it had banned the use of federal funds for such research. Geron, however, has used its own money and that of investors.

“This marks the beginning of what is potentially a new chapter in medical therapeutics – one that reaches beyond pills to a new level of healing: the restoration of organ and tissue function achieved by the injection of healthy replacement cells,” Geron chief executive officer Dr. Thomas Okarma said Friday.

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