California stem cell industry reviving

Almost three years after a Bay Area company shut down the world’s first clinical trial of a therapy using embryonic stem cells, another local company is reviving the therapy.

The treatment drew international attention in 2010, when Geron in Menlo Park began testing it in patients with severe spinal cord injuries. But it scrapped the project a year later because of a lack of funds – a move seen as a major blow to the nascent field.

The therapy was then sold to Asterias Biotherapeutics, also in Menlo Park. On Wednesday, Asterias said it had gained regulatory permission to test whether the treatment, which is derived from human embryonic stem cells, helps heal patients with a different kind of spinal cord injury.

Observers saw the news as a promising advancement for research in stem cells, which have the unique ability to both reproduce themselves and become tissue- or organ-specific cells. That regenerative capability could be harnessed to treat intractable diseases and injuries, scientists believe. But no stem cell-based therapies have made it to market.

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Read the full, original story: Stem cell industry’s ‘huge development’ in Bay Area

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