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UK firm to test stem cell therapy for stroke patients
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10:23, January 19, 2009

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A British biotechnology company is to launch a pioneering trial to determine whether stem cell therapy can be used to help stroke patients.

ReNeuron Group Plc said on Sunday the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency has given the company its approval for trials using fetal stem cells in Britain.

"Stem cell treatment offers the potential to repair brain tissue lost as a result of stroke," principal investigator Keith Muir, a senior lecturer in neurology at the University of Glasgow, said in a statement. "We are very excited at the opportunity to undertake this, the first clinical trial involving neural stem cell therapy in stroke."

This file photo shows a human embryonic stem cell colony, on a background of mouse embryonic fibroblast feeder cells, stained with Wright-Giemsa to highlight the individual cells of the colony. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

About half of all stroke survivors are left with permanent disabilities as a result of brain damage. The tests of ReNeuron, working with a team of doctors in Scotland, involve injecting cells developed from human foetuses into patients' brains.

It is hoped the cells will help the brain to regenerate areas damaged by stroke, increasing physical mobility and mental function.

The first patients are expected to be recruited into the Phase I program at the Institute of Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, in the second quarter of this year.

Four groups of three patients will receive ReNeuron's ReN001 cell therapy between six and 24 months after their stroke.

ReNeuron applied to begin trials two years ago in the United States but could not secure permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In the past, some anti-abortion groups have described the idea as "sick proposal," saying it involved "cannibalising an unborn child."


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