First Patient Injected With Embryonic Derivatives Identified

Bioethics   David Prentice   Apr 12, 2011   |   6:32PM    Washington, DC

The first patient to be injected with derivatives of human embryonic stem cells has been identified.

Timothy J. Atchison of Chatom, AL, was the first patient injected in Geron’s study, according to a report early this morning from Rob Stein of the Washington Post. The experiment started in October 2010, in Atlanta, GA. Atchison has now identified himself and says “I’m doing well.” No specific details have been given on his progress. Geron has disclosed that other clinical sites have been approved, but has not acknowledged whether any other patients have been injected in their experiment.

The trial has been criticized based on its use of morally-questionable embryonic stem cells, but also in terms of its safety risks. And while it was pointed out over two years ago, today’s story belatedly notes that, because this experiment requires injecting the ESC-derived cells into the patient within two weeks of the injury, because “Patients often improve on their own, which makes gauging whether the cells had any effect dicey.”

In contrast, as was brought out in U.S. Senate testimony in September 2010, adult stem cells have already shown success at treating spinal cord injury patients, even years after their injury, as documented by peer-reviewed published scientific evidence.