The California-based Geron Corp. will use stem cells to regrow nerve tissue in eight to 10 recently injured patients with crushed, but not severed, spinal cords. The treatment will begin by giving patients low doses of immunosuppressants for two months.
The human embryonic stem cell research was challenged by anti-abortion forces supported by former US president George W. Bush, saying the technique destroys human embryos.
Supporters of the technique, however, believe it could transform medicine, press tv reported.
"For us, it marks the dawn of a new era in medical therapeutics. This approach is one that reaches beyond pills and scalpels to achieve a new level of healing," said Geron Chief Executive, Dr. Thomas Okarma.
According to Dr. Okarma, the cells will not be recognized by the immune system and patients will not have to undergo the usual treatments given after organ and tissue transplants.
The treatment, which may also prove useful for other diseases such as multiple sclerosis, will begin this summer, Reuters reported.
Financial analysts described the treatment as important 'as the discovery of ... penicillin.'
Found in most multi-cellular organisms, stem cells have the ability to renew themselves through mitotic cell division and differentiating into a diverse range of specialized cell types.
Embryonic stem cells are considered the most powerful kinds of stem cells, which can generate all types of tissue.