Advanced Cell Technology Increases Most in Year on Stem Cell Study of Eyes

Advanced Cell Technology Inc. (ACTC), the second company to win permission from the U.S. to test embryonic stem cells in people, rose the most in a year after it reported the cells improved vision in two patients.

The first published study on the technology in humans describes one woman who was able to distinguish fingers, and another who can now read her watch and see colors. The cells, after being injected into their eyes, weren’t rejected and didn’t cause tumors or other side effects after four months, the researchers reported.

Advanced Cell Technology gained 23 percent to 18 cents at the close in New York, in the biggest increase since December 2010. The shares had declined 61 percent in 2011 after Geron Corp. (GERN), the Menlo Park, California-based company that started the first U.S.-approved trial with embryonic stem cells, said it was abandoning its program.

“It’s the only active clinical trial and the only to actively report the results,” said Anthony Atala, a professor at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina, who wasn’t involved in the study. “If these therapies advance, we hope to be able to see these technologies transferred to other therapies, and also for the use of other kinds of stem cells.”

Embryonic stem cells, which can change into any other cell in the human body, are controversial because they are taken from human embryos. Chief Scientific Officer Robert Lanza, of Marlborough, Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell, said what works with embryonic cells probably will work with stem cells that are produced in other ways.

Advanced Cell treated two legally blind patients, one with dry age-related macular degeneration and one with Stargardt’s macular dystrophy. Both patients have requested treatment in their other eye, Lanza said.

Preliminary results from the trial were published in The Lancet, a London-based medical journal.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at

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