Adult stem cell therapies making rapid progress in human studies

The news late last week that Geron had finally received the FDA's approval to start the world's first human trial of an embryonic stem cell treatment marked a major milestone for the controversial field. But it also highlights just how far ESC treatments have lagged behind adult stem cell remedies in human studies.

Late last week researchers said they were able to successfully take donated windpipes, stripped them of cells and then repopulated them with the adult stem cells of patients in need of transplants. The chief investigator in one of the studies said that the same basic approach could be used for other types of human organs, including lungs.

The AP's in-depth review of the adult stem cell field found human studies for promising new therapies for MS, heart attacks and diabetes. New skin grafts have been created while adult stem cells have been used to restore vision in damaged eyes and become a routine feature in the treatment of leukemia and other blood diseases.

Trials for heart attack victims are underway in which researchers are looking for solid human data to back up their belief that stem cells could help repair damaged tissue. And investigators are exploring cells extracted from bone marrow, muscle and fat.

ESC treatments, meanwhile, are still years away. But scientists note that they may be offer lab researchers a much better way to undertake preclinical tests on the potential of new therapies.

- here's the feature from the AP