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Trial of Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy for Eye Disease Planned

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U.S. scientists have asked the federal government to approve human trials of embryonic stem cell therapy to treat a common form of juvenile blindness.

The researchers plan to inject retinal cells derived from embryonic stem cells into 12 patients who are losing their sight to Stargardt disease, which is currently untreatable, the Agence France Presse reported.

Experiments in mice and rats showed that this treatment prevented further vision loss without causing any harmful side effects, according to Dr. Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology.

He said the trial could begin as soon as early 2010 if it's approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, AFP reported.

The FDA has received only one other proposal for a clinical trial of stem cell therapies. That project, which would treat spinal injury patients, is not expected to begin before late 2010.

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