Wednesday, December 19, 2007

FDA Calls April Meeting for Stem Cell Testing Advice

Clinical trials for therapies using human embryonic stem cells seem to be creeping closer with the latest news coming from the US Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA Tuesday announced a meeting April 10 to seek advice concerning "scientific considerations for safety testing" of such therapies. Two California firms, Geron and Advanced Cell Technologies, say they plan to send representatives to the meeting. Both have also indicated they hope to begin clinical trials next year.

Luke Timmerman and Rob Waters of Bloomberg News reported that Reni Benjamin, an analyst with Rodman and Renshaw in New York, said the FDA meeting is unusual because "the agency typical seeks advice on whether to approve a tested drug, not on how to proceed."

According to the two reporters:
"Geron has communicated extensively with FDA reviewers over the design of the first human trial using embryonic stem cells, partly to convince the agency that putting the cells into people won’t result in the growth of abnormal cell clusters called teratomas, Thomas Okarma, Geron’s chief executive officer, said in interviews with Bloomberg."
Bloomberg said that ACT plans to submit a clinical trials application in the first half of 2008 for a treatment using retinal cells.

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