USA Today: Second human embryonic stem cell clinical trial to start

Federal officials have cleared a second clinical trial of a human embryonic stem-cell treatment, a company announced Monday, for a progressive blindness syndrome affecting young people.

Twelve patients with Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, which causes vision loss in children after the age of ten, will be enrolled in the combined Phase I/II (safety and effectiveness) clinical trial, announced Advanced Cell Technology of Marlborough, Mass. The syndrome destroys retinal cells, and the new treatment will inject new ones derived from stem cells into the eyes of the patients.

“There is currently no treatment for Stargardt’s disease,” said ACT’s Robert Lanza, in a statement. “Using stem cells, we can generate a virtually unlimited supply of healthy (retinal) cells, which are the first cells to die off in (Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy) and other forms of macular degeneration.”

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