Hans Keirstead and his colleagues in the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at UC Irvine (named after Christopher Reeve) have found that a human embryonic stem cell-derived treatment they developed was successful in restoring the insulation tissue for neurons in rats treated seven days after the initial injury, which led to a recovery of motor skills. But the same treatment did not work on rats that had been injured for 10 months. The findings point to the potential of using stem cell-derived therapies for treatment of spinal cord damage in humans during the very early stages of the injury. The study appears in the May 11 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. (cap tip: Science Blog)
There were many (I was not one) who, as part of voicing their opposition to embryonic stem cell research, were quick to claim that there are no benefits in human trials from using embryonic human stem cells because their flexibility inherently leads to instability. I believe that it is only a matter of time before somebody trumpets a clinical success, and we need to prepare our arguments for this eventuality. To be free of the solipsism that is steamrolling the way for embryonic stem cell research, we must recognize that we can only be free in truth, the measure of which is reality; we can know the truth, and we must embrace accordingly the reality of such a result, should it come.