Advanced Cell Technology, a US pharmaceutical company, has been granted benefi cial “orphan drug” status under the Orphan Drug Act by the US Food and Drug Administration for an embryonic stem cell therapy which it is developing to treat Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, a rare form of blindness. The Act helps to speed therapies for diseases affl icting fewer than 200,000 Americans, which otherwise makes developing drugs for them unattractive to pharmaceutical companies. Its benefi ts include tax breaks, access to grant funding for clinical trials, accelerated FDA approval and up to seven years of market exclusivity.