University of Calfiornia Irvine

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:

Radiation can effectively destroy brain tumor cells – but at a cost. While killing the tumor cells the treatment also damages normal cells in portions of the brain involved in learning and memory, leaving people with varying levels of impairment. New work by researchers at the University of California, Irvine suggests that human embryonic stem cells are able to ameliorate radiation-induced normal tissue damage.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have reversed Alzheimer's-like symptoms in a mouse model of the disease with injections of neural stem cells. The mice used in this study mimicked the human disease, showing learning and memory defects and accumulating both beta-amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles within the brain, the two hallmark pathologies of the disease.  Mice that received injections of mouse neural stem cells performed significantly better in memory tests than mice that received control injections. The stem cells did not replace cells lost to the disease.