It seems like the stem cell news cycle alternates between stories of incremental hope (take the heart disease model for drug discovery out of Stanford today) and stories decrying the woeful lack of cures out of CIRM. I think the popular imagination went from the word "cure" when Proposition 71 passed in 2004 to an immediate need to see those cures by 2005. Or at least by 2011.

Under the direction of Dr. Gary Steinberg, an advance long considered impossible is moving forward today: Stanford announced yesterday that it will participate in Geron's human clinical safety trials for a novel treatment for spinal cord injury. These are safety trials to be sure and not efficacy trials, more tests will need to be run, but this is already farther along than ever before.

A nod to Paul Knoepfler at UC Davis, who has posted a blog entry about the Geron trial for spinal cord injury. It provides a nice summary of the science behind the trial, and a reminder of why patients might be hard to recruit. He refers to Michael Martinez, a jockey who recently sustained a severe spinal cord injury, and who was rejected for participation in Geron's trial developed from human embryonic stem cells. As Knoepfler points out: