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Hospital to use controversial new stem cell treatment on stroke patients

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Doctors at a Scottish hospital could be the first in the world to use a controversial new stem cell treatment on stroke patients, it has been announced.

Test are to begin at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital using stem cells grown from a single aborted human foetus. The controversial technique was developed by English-based research firm ReNeuron, which hopes the study will help improve the quality of life of thousands of stroke patients.

The company, which spent £10 million of private investors' money developing the technique, said research has been approved by the UK regulator but has still to pass an ethics committee.

Using stem cells from aborted foetuses has been labelled "immoral and unethical" by the Catholic Church in Scotland.

But ReNeuron founder Dr John Sinden said the breakthrough represents a potential treatment for a disability that is difficult for the health care system and families to cope with.

"Almost every family has a member that has been affected by stroke in some way," he said.

"Very often that means the person can't walk or speak or has major difficulties. At the moment it's untreatable. We want to change that."

The trials, which Dr Sinden hopes will start in June, involve stem cells being injected into the brains of patients to discover whether the treatment can effectively regenerate damaged areas of the brain.

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