The 6 year old patient who received a transplant of fetal stem cells into his brain last month has returned home for the holidays.
The patient is apparently doing well enough after the surgery to make his way home, but not well enough for doctors to comment on his longterm condition.
The boy has a rare condition called Batten Disease which had left him mute and on verge of dying, before stem cells extracted and purified from aborted fetal tissue were transplanted into his brain on November 14. The treatment protocol and stem cells were provided by StemCells (NASDAQ:STEM).
The treatment was previously successful in pre-clinical studies in mice, but the procedure had not been tried in humans before.
The study has fired up anti-abortion groups who call the procedure, "...most grisly of examples that can be given about abortion," Gayle Atteberry, executive director of the Oregon Right to Life.
While the little boy's longterm health is of primary importance, the technical goals of the treatment are less dramatic. Doctors hope to accumulate relevant data following a year of post-op observations to see whether the fetal stem cells will harm the patient. If his symptoms improve only slightly StemCells plans on conducting further trials on more children suffering from this terrible condition.
Batten Disease is characterized by defective genes rendering certain enzymes incapable of breaking down waste produced in the brain. The build up of waste damages the brain, and sufferers usually die before their teen years.
It is estimated that 3 out of every 100,000 children are afflicted by Batten Disease in the United States.