Stem cell trial for spinal cord injuries halted: SCI individuals as lab rats?

The world’s first official trial for spinal cord injuries with embryonic stem cell-based products has been halted. Geron, the investigator company who received FDA approval for this study in 2009 and enrolled its first patient in 2010, announced on November 15 2011 that this trial would be discontinued with “immediate effect”.

Geron justified its decision on grounds of “capital scarcity and uncertain economic conditions” in its official press release. These concerns were reiterated in their webcast, which explained their steps along the lines of stakeholders’ interests: Geron had to keep the highest return for stakeholders in mind. The company suggested that the resources would now be used for advancing its in-house cancer trials (phase II).

Patient advocates were disappointed with the decision, particularly in relation to the motivations for the decision. Daniel Heumann was quoted by the Washington post as saying: “”I’m disgusted. It makes me sick. To get people’s hopes up and then do this for financial reasons is despicable. They’re treating us like lab rats.”” Continue reading