The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has notified Geron Corp. that it can move forward with the world’s first clinical trial of a human embryonic stem cell-based therapy in humans. UC Irvine neurobiologist Hans Keirstead – of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center and the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center – and colleague Dr. Gabriel Nistor developed a technique for prompting human embryonic stem cells to form new tissue around damaged neurons, restoring motor function in paralyzed rats. Menlo Park, Calif.-based Geron will conduct the trial in patients with acute spinal cord injury at a number of U.S. locations. “This trial was approved only after rigorous safety testing and consultation of countless experts in the field,” Keirstead said. “Any benefit to the patient, even an incremental one, would be a resounding victory.”