Landmark Spinal Repair Stem Cell Trial

12/6/2011 12:00:00 AM

The fifth and final patient in the Geron Corp sponsored trial of a human embryonic-stem-cell-derived treatment for severe spinal cord injury was treated on Nov. 16. at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Geron, based in Menlo Park, Calif., developed and manufactured the cells. The phase-1 trial was implemented to test the safety of the stem cells in human patients. Although Geron has discontinued the trial, the company will continue to monitor the five patients who have received the cells for a total of 15 years and is actively looking for partners to "enable further development of its stem cell programs."

Gary Steinberg MD, PhD., the Bernard and Ronni Lacroute-William Randolph Hearst Professor in Neurosurgery and Neurosciences at Stanford, is the principal investigator of the Stanford/SCVMC portion of the trial, and implanted the cells in the patient at the Rehabilitation Trauma Center at SCVMC. The neurosurgeon said :

"The procedure went smoothly and the patient is doing extremely well ... Although the decision by Geron to discontinue the trial was disappointing, I am confident that stem cell science will continue to move forward as we and others work to translate promising laboratory findings into clinical benefits for patients."

The first patient in the trial was treated in Atlanta in Oct 2010, with the first patient treated at Stanford 17th Sept. All the patients have responded well to treatment and the implants have been tolerated. Geron discontinued the trial almost entirely on financial concerns and the need to focus on its new cancer treatments, rather than because of any clinical failures.

The spinal cord injury trial had researchers at Geron collaborating with Hans Keirstead, PhD, and his team at UC-Irvine to develop a way to persuade human embryonic stem cells to become a mixture of cells that includes oligodendrocyte precursors.

Oligodendrocytes are cells in the brain and the central nervous system that wrap nerve cells with an insulating material called myelin. As any biology student will tell you, this myelin sheath is necessary for the transmission of the electric signals along the spinal cord that trigger muscles to move, and relay our sense of touch and temperature. Much like damage to the insulation on an electrical cable causing short circuits and loss of power, damage to this sheath, caused by trauma is a common cause of paralysis.

The trial was limited to patients who had been injured within 14 days and had only non-penetrating damage to a specific region of their thoracic spine. (upper part from lower ribs to shoulder). The damage needed to have caused complete paraplegia, meaning that the patients had normal sensation or movement to the level of the hands, but not the lower body or legs.

In this most recent procedure, Dr. Steinberg applied about 2 million of the special cells, called GRNOPC1, directly into the injured area of the patient''s spinal cord. The patient then entered an intensive inpatient rehabilitation program under the supervision of spinal cord injury expert Stephen McKenna, MD, director of the Rehabilitation Trauma Center at SCVMC.

McKenna concluded :

"The future for stem cell research is bright ... Conducting the world''s first clinical trial of human embryonic stem cells and showing that they have been safe is a historic milestone in this new and developing field. We are extremely proud of our accomplishment."



 News from National  

Get the latest news, resources and information from our national affiliate, United Spinal Association.



  Our Mission

The Mission of the Connecticut Spinal Cord Injury Association (SCIACT), a chapter of United Spinal Association, is to support those with spinal related injuries or diseases and their families by being an advocate for their rights while serving as a resource to its members and the general public.

Learn More

 More stories in sci_news

  Barbie introduces dolls with wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs

Go To Article...

  Full Body Winter Coat Designed for Wheelchair Users!

Go To Article...

  New O’Hare restroom more accessible than any other in U.S., officials say

Go To Article...

  ABC's 'Speechless' Calls for Abilities Expo

Go To Article...

  Time to get out and vote - make it count for disabilities!

Read More...

  Electrical implant helps paralyzed patients walk again

Go To Article...

  Paralyzed During Vacation: 'I'm Happier Than I've Ever Been'

Go To Article...

  Report Disabled Parking Abuse with the Parking Mobility App

Go To Article...

  UConn Says No To Wheelchair Basketball Team In Fall 2018

Go To Article...

  General Assembly approves raises for home-care workers

Go To Article...

  Paralyzed Ex-UConn Basketball Player Now a Curling Paralympian

Go To Article...

  Wheelchair Basketball Clinic Raises Hopes For Intercollegiate Program At UConn

Go To Article...

  Scientists May Have Discovered How Spinal Injuries Are Repaired On a Cellular Level

Go To Article...

  Independent living centers at risk from state, federal budget cuts

Go To Article...

  Ed Roberts activist Google Doodle honors leader of the disability rights movement

Go To Article...

  People with SCI Wanted for Rowing-Based Exercise Study

Read More...

  New science helps a paralyzed man move his legs for the first time in years

Go To Article...

  Olympic Swimmer Amy Van Dyken Determined to Walk Again

Go To Article...

  Man With Severed Spine Walks Again in 'World First'

Go To Article...

  Paraplegic in an exoskeleton opens the World Cup -- with a kick

Go To Article...

  Stimulation restores some function for 4 paralyzed men

Go To Article...

  Repair Stem Cells Institute Announces "Double Benefits for SCI" Stem Cells Treatment

Read More...

  Tobii EyeMobile: Control Windows 8 tablets using only your eyes

Go To Article...

  Adaptive Snowboarding and Other Winter Sports

Go To Article...

  TEK Robotic Mobilization Device: designed to replace wheelchairs

Go To Article...

  Tongue piercing lets paralyzed drive wheelchairs

Read More...

  Senate Bill Introduced To Create Separate Benefit Category for Complex Rehab Technology

Read More...

  Ekso Bionics' robotic suit eyes-on (video)

Go To Article...

  NCART: Schumer to Introduce Senate Bill for Separate Benefit Category

Go To Article...

  All-terrain chairs open doors

Go To Article...

  Nobel Winners Unlocked Cells Unlimited Potential

Go To Article...

  UK Paraplegic Woman Uses Robotic Suit to Walk

Go To Article...

  SCI Total Fitness Program Breaks Down the Barriers of Exercise For People with Spinal Cord Injury

Read More...

  Paralyzed Rats Learn to Walk Again In Rehabilitation Experiment

Go To Article...

  Compressed Natural Gas Fueling Station Opens at Metro Taxi

Read More...

  Landmark Spinal Repair Stem Cell Trial

Read More...

  Lack Of Accessible Cabs Doesn’t Sit Well With Senator

Read More...

  More Than Walking: filmaker's SCI joureny

Read More...

  StemCells, Inc. Initiates World’s First Neural Stem Cell Trial in Spinal Cord Injury

Read More...

  First patient treated in embryonic stem cell trial

Go To Article...

  Robotic Legs Get Wheelchair Users Walking

Go To Article...

  Paralyzed Rats Walk Again

Go To Article...



  Donate

Donating to the SCIACT has never been easier or more secure! Please click this button to donate the amount of your choice using your PayPal account or any major credit card.

Learn More