The first patient has been treated with human embryonic stem cells in the first study authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to test the controversial therapy.
A patient who was partially paralyzed by a spinal cord injury had millions of embryonic stem cells injected into the site of the damage, according to an announcement early Monday by the Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif., which is sponsoring the groundbreaking study.
The patient was treated at the Shepherd Center, a 132-bed hospital in Atlanta that specializes in spinal cord and brain injuries, Geron said. The hospital is one of seven sites participating in the study, which is primarily aimed at testing whether the therapy is safe. Doctors will, however, also conduct a series of specially designed tests to see whether the treatment helps the patients. No additional information about the first patient was released.
The announcement comes as the future of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research remains in doubt. A federal judge ruled in August that the Obama administration's more permissive policy for funding the research violated a federal law prohibiting taxpayer money being used for research that involves the destruction of human embryos. The Justice Department is appealing.