WASHINGTON (AFP) – The first clinical trials that examine the use of stem cells to treat two forms of blindness are ready to begin now that patients have been enrolled, a US company announced on Thursday.
A total of 24 patients have entered two separate trials at an eye institute in California, said representatives from the Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology.
ACT was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration several months ago to begin clinical trials of human embryonic stem cells to treat a form of juvenile blindness known as Stargardt's disease and dry age-related macular degeneration.
Now that patients have been enrolled, the trials will begin "in the very near future," a company spokeswoman said.
The trials aim to check the safety of the treatment before moving on to see whether the therapy can help stop vision loss...
...Scientists say the cells offer great promise in treating Parkinson's disease, diabetes and a variety of other illnesses. Critics frequently oppose the research on religious grounds because it involves the destruction of human embryos.
Scientists say that embryonic stem cell research shows great promise, although it has yet to be shown to be effective in treating any human medical problems, as opposed to adult stem cell research, which involves no destruction of human life.