Geron aims to be first in human trials with ESCs

In a first, Geron made headlines at the BIO CEO conference in New York with its announcement that it could begin its first human trials using embryonic stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries as early as this spring. Geron first has to meet the "high bar" set by the FDA, says Geron CEO Thomas Okarma. Geron is in a race to start the first FDA-approved ESC trials. Advanced Cell Technology, which has been trying--unsuccessfully so far--to find a way around the controversy generated by ESCs by creating new stem cell lines without destroying embryos, also plans to launch human trials this year. Novocell is believed to be further back in the field. But no one believes that FDA approval will be quick and easy.

"This is the first time that a human embryonic stem cell application is being submitted to the FDA, so there's a good chance that some questions will arise," said Ren Benjamin, analyst for Rodman & Renshaw.

A significant crowd has turned out for the annual biotech confab. Organizers of the conference estimate attendance at around 2,500, noting an increase over last year's gathering of biotech executives.

- read the report from CNN

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