Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Results Heralded in Asterias hESC Clinical Trial

Two prominent stem cell patient advocates are hailing as a “giant leap forward” the initial results of a clinical trial involving a human embryonic stem cell therapy for spinal cord injuries.

Their remarks came in the wake of last week's announcement by Asterias Therapeutics of Menlo Park, Ca., that the trial had cleared its first safety hurdle. Asterias picked up the trial from Geron, which began it in 2010. Asterias and its parent, BioTime of Alameda, Ca., purchased Geron's stem cell assets after Geron abandoned the trial in 2011.

Asked for comment on the Asterias announcement, Roman Reed of Fremont, Ca., who was honored for his advocacy work in 2013 by the Genetics Policy Institute, said,
“Having started this groundbreaking research with Roman's Law funding of pioneer Dr. Hans Keirstead, I am extremely excited about the possibility of a paralysis treatment.
“My goal is paralysis cure. This research brings that dream closer to fruition for all of my paralyzed brethren. Onward & Upwards!”

Then California Gov. Schwarzenegger (left) with Don Reed
(center) and Roman Reed at 2007 stem cell agency press
AP photo
His father, Don Reed, also of Fremont and whose advocacy work along with Roman's led to passage of California's Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act, said the search for a spinal injury stem cell therapy dates back some years.

 A major moment came, the elder Reed said “with the famous paralyzed  'rats-that-walked-again'” feature on '60 Minutes,' which made Christopher Reeve say, 'Oh, to be a rat today!' Today, the dream he embodied is a giant leap closer.”

Reeve was an actor who was famous for his screen portrayal of Superman and was paralyzed as the result of a horse-riding accident. He died Oct. 10, 2004, about one month before the California voters created the state's $3 billion stem cell agency.

Roman Reed, who is a candidate for the California state Senate in next week's election, is paralyzed as the result of a football injury to his spine in 1994. He coined the California stem cell agency's motto, “Turning stem cells into cures.”

Asterias is expected to receive a $14.3 million award from the California stem cell agency on Thursday to help continue the trial.

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