"Embryonic stem cell research as a scientific endeavor is absolutely legitimate, and its contributions to our understanding of development and tissue specificity cannot be dismissed as hype now," said Salomon. "It certainly is not an indictment of a whole scientific field just because Geron failed in their first trial."
Perhaps Geron's quest to find therapies for spinal cord injuries was too ambitious for the first U.S. embryonic stem cell trial, Petersen said. He called the endeavor "like trying to run when we can't even walk."
"A lot of basic science needs to be completed before we go running off to the clinics with stem cells," said Petersen.
Although Geron has called it quits, more than a dozen other companies are holding on to their work with embryonic stem cells.
"Those that want to continue to move the field forward will want to know what Geron learned and what might be avoided to enhance the potential of success in the next trial," said Salomon.