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First human trials involving reprogrammed stem cells could come next year

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John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka earned a Nobel Prize for breakthroughs that came from their decades of stem cell research. Now it appears their work may soon change lives. The Wall Street Journal reports that a biotechnology company plans to seek regulatory approval as early as tomorrow for human trials involving reprogrammed stem cells. Unlike traditional stem cells, which are sourced from destroyed human embryos and thus embroiled in ethical controversy, reprogrammed cells can come from other areas of the body such as your skin.

Advanced Cell Technology hopes to harness the potential of these reprogrammed cells to develop better treatment options for patients suffering from leukemia and anemia. Individuals with certain types of those diseases routinely need platelet infusions, which maintain their body's blood-clotting ability. Unfortunately, it's been found that our bodies can sometimes become resistant to donated blood. Creating platelets from a patient's own cells solves this medical hurdle. If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants its request, ACT could begin testing by the end of 2013.