Pfizer to Start Stem Cell Clinical Trials on Humans
Pfizer Inc. will start the first clinical trials on medical treatments derived from human embryonic stem cells.
This has come on the heels of news that scientists have successfully cloned a human embryo to create self replicating stem cells.
The first treatment Pfizer and its partners at University College London's Institute of Ophthalmology are going to tackle is Macular Degeneration. It is an age related disorder that can cause blindness.
Scientists aim to cover the damaged area of the eye with a patch of new retinal cells that have been produced from human embryonic stem cells. The patch is inserted through a slit in the retina.
Embryonic stem cells can be transformed into any cell type under laboratory conditions. This process makes these cells a potentially useful tool for repairing and regenerating diseased organs and tissue.
Since stem cells are derived from days-old embryos, the matter has been opposed on ethical and religious grounds.
Former US President George W. Bush set strict limits on the use of federal funding for human embryonic stem-cell research. President Barack Obama loosened these restrictions to allow more leeway in federal funding.
Despite the controversy, several companies and academic research groups have quietly advanced a number of potential treatments to the stage of human testing.