Paralyzed Patient Undergoes Stem Cell Experiment

21-year-old got drug 6 months ago, but it's too early to gauge results
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2011 4:22 PM CDT
File photo: A 21-year-old is undergoing an experimental stem cell treatment.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A 21-year-old nursing student in Alabama paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident says he's "doing well" after receiving an experimental drug made from embryonic stem cells, but that it's too early to gauge his prospects of being able to walk again. Timothy Atchison tells the Washington Post that he received the drug in the closely watched experiment six months ago shortly after his accident. "We’re just in the early stages right now," he says. "It’s not at the stage to really know what’s going on."

The Post characterizes the FDA-sanctioned experiment—sponsored by an Atlanta rehab facility and biopharmaceuticals firm Geron Corp—as the "first carefully designed attempt to study a stem cell therapy." In experiments with rats, the drug repaired damaged spinal cords and restored mobility. It's controversial not only because the stem cells are from human embryos but because critics think the research hasn't progressed enough to test on humans. Atchison remains upbeat, though: “I just met with my literary agent."

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