Stem Cell Hope For Spinal Injuries

Recent research suggests that there may be stem cell hope for spinal injuries. People with damaged spinal columns have had to come to terms with living a life without the use of their legs as damage to the spinal cord prevented messages being delivered to the legs. However recent research into stem cell treatment of the spinal cord in dogs has shown that the animals have regained the use of limbs that were previously totally limp.

“As he strolls across the lawn, it is hard to believe Jasper the dachshund was unable to use his hind legs just two years ago. Paralysed in an accident, he needed years of physiotherapy and a special trolley to get around.

But scientists conducting a study at Cambridge University have helped him walk again with a pioneering treatment that offers hope for human patients with spinal injuries.

Injecting cells from the dog’s nose into the injured part of his spine helped repair the damage. After the treatment, Jasper was able to move his previously paralysed hind legs and co-ordinate movement with his front limbs. The ten-year-old dog is now ‘whizzing around’ unassisted and can also swim.

Early trials involving humans have taken place, and Professor Robin Franklin, co-author of the study from the Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, said: ‘Our findings are extremely exciting because they show for the first time that transplanting these types of cell into a severely damaged spinal cord can bring about significant improvement.”

“‘We’re confident the technique might be able to restore at least a small amount of movement in human patients with spinal cord injuries, but that’s a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function.

‘It’s more likely that this procedure might one day be used as part of a combination of treatments, alongside drug and physical therapies, for example.’

In the study, published in the journal Brain, scientists looked at 34 pet dogs with severe spinal injuries that left them unable to use their back legs to walk.

Those injected with olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) from their noses showed a considerable improvement, moving previously paralysed limbs. Some also regained lost bowel and bladder control. A second group treated with a placebo showed no benefits.”

There is stem cell hope for spinal injuries and in many other human health areas. Stem Cells could be the biggest advancement in medicine ever made by the human race. It not only offers the possibility of cures to ‘incurable’ diseases but also the ‘growing’ of body parts for transplants and replacements.

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