Dr. Gary Steinberg Leads Stanford University in Trial of Stem Cell Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury

Written by Laura Dyrda | February 01, 2011 | Print  |
Gary Steinberg, MD, a neurosurgeon at Stanford University School of Medicine, will lead the school's participation in the FDA-approved phase 1 trial meant to test the safety of using stem cells for treating spinal cord injuries, according to a PhysOrg report.

The first clinical trials using cells derived from human embryonic stem cells began in Oct. 2010 at Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Stanford University is the third site to participate in the trial and will enroll up to ten patients. If the investigational treatment is successful in showing safety for human use, larger clinical trials will be designed to test whether the cells are better than conventional treatment.

The trial is run by Geron, a company that develops and manufactures cells for testing. Dr. Steinberg has been researching the use of stem cells in models of neurological injury or illness for the past decade. He currently also heads the team of Stanford researchers studying how neural stem cells could be used to treat patients with ischemic stroke.

"Until recently, we have not had any hope of restoring neurological function in people with spinal cord injury or stroke, or those with brain tumors or Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Steinberg said in the report. "But now we're moving stem cell therapy into the clinic, which I feel is a tremendously important step."

Dr. Steinberg will be joined by his colleague, Marco Lee, MD. During the procedure, which can only be performed shortly after paralysis, the neurosurgeon applies two million of the CRNOPC1 cells directly into the injured area of the patient's spine. Following the surgery, the patient will undergo intensive inpatient rehabilitation. While the surgery isn't expected to cure paralysis, researchers believe it can improve function in the patients.

Read the PhysOrg report on using stem cells in spinal cord injury patients.

Read other coverage on stem cell use in orthopedics:

- Texas Spine Surgeon Performs Stem Cell transplantation for Disc Degeneration

- First Embryonic Stem Cell Treatment in a Human Used to Treat Spinal Cord Injury

- Geron Corp.'s Stem Cell Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury Trials Begin

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