The U.S. government only the second time, has approved a test in people of a treatment using embryonic stem cells - this time for a rare disease that causes serious vision loss.
Advanced Cell Technology, a biotechnology company based in Santa Monica., Calif., said the research should begin early next year, following the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Just last month another biotech company, Geron Corp., said it had begun preliminary testing in people for treating spinal cord injuries by injecting cells derived from embryonic stem cells, according to The Associated Press.
Using the stem cells, the researchers hope to be able to restore sight in children that have lost their sight thanks to the disease. Thus far they have had success in treating mice and rats with the stem cells. During the first rounds of testing the researchers were able to restore sight in the mice and rats.
The FDA is slow to approve any treatment that uses stem cells. Stem cells are a controversial treatment option based on the method used to extract them. They are pulled from living embryos which then makes the embryo unviable for use. Those that oppose such methods suggest that the harvesting of stem cells is murder.
However, this new round of research is providing hope for those that have basically lost all hope. But the treatment is still years from being approved as it will have to be properly tested and then approved by the FDA.
Furthermore, creating new stem cell lines is difficult and can take years to complete, creating a possible shortfall in the treatment, News Watch International reports.