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Patients Facing Blindness to Test Therapy with Stem Cells

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 7:36pm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ten years ago, a biotech startup called Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) began trying to create retinal cells from human embryonic stem cells. Because this newly discovered type of cell could both replenish itself and differentiate into any cell type in the body, it was seen as an ideal source of replacement tissue. This year, after spending $20 million on its quest, the company will begin its first human tests of the treatment. ACT won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week to start clinical trials of an experimental treatment for age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in people older than 60.

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