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Effect on stem cell ruling on companies unclear

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(Reuters) – Government officials say they will appeal a U.S. District Court injunction that stops new federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research.

The ruling has no direct effect on researchers or companies working with private funds, but government funding often kick-starts the most basic, and risky biological work.

Scientists are working to use them to repair severed spinal cords, regenerate brain cells lost in Parkinson’s disease and restore the tissue destroyed by juvenile diabetes.

Below is a partial list companies working to develop both adult and embryonic stem cells as therapies:

* Geron Corp. recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to start testing its experimental human embryonic stem cell therapy in people with new spinal cord injuries — the first trial of the controversial cells in humans.

* StemCells Inc. recently said its human neural stem cells helped improve movement in mice being treated for spinal injuries. The Palo Alto, California-based company plans to start human trials in 2011.

* Advanced Cell Technology Inc recently received orphan drug status from the FDA for retinal stem cells to treat Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, which can lead to blindness.

* Neuralstem Inc. said on Wednesday it has filed an investigational new drug application with the FDA to begin a Phase 1 safety clinical trial for chronic spinal cord injury with its spinal cord stem cells. It is also testing its cells in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

* Aastrom Biosciences Inc. is working on ways to take a patient’s own cells and use them to treat heart disease. These are in advanced trials in patients.

* Thermogenesis Corp. supplies products and services that process and store adult stem cells. The company recently cut its workforce by 10 percent to lower expenses.

* Osiris Therapeutics Inc., is testing so-called adult stem cells taken from the bone marrow in patients with Crohn’s disease and graft versus host disease.

* Cytori Therapeutics Inc. uses its Celution system to take stem and regenerative cells from a patient’s own fat tissue to form a fat graft to reconstruct and repair breast and soft tissue. It is not yet available in the United States. Its StemSource product line is sold globally for cell banking and research applications.

* ReNeuron Group Plc reported positive mouse data with its REN009 stem cell therapy for peripheral arterial disease in diabetes. It hopes to apply to start trials in people next year.

* Aldagen Inc, a private company, announced results last year from a Phase 1 clinical trial of ALD-201, a stem cell treatment for heart failure. Many companies are working to find ways to use stem cells to regenerate damaged heart tissue.

* Celgene Corp, better known for blood cancer treatments, has an experimental stem cell treatment for Crohn’s disease in phase 1 clinical trials.

* International Stem Cell Corporation in California is trying to make human stem cells via a process known as parthenogenesis, in which an unfertilized egg begins to divide and grow as if it were fertilized by sperm. It positions its potential products as alternatives to embryonic stem cells.

(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Boston; Editing by Maggie Fox)

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