Spinal injury victims could walk again


Spinal cord injury victims could walk again if they receive embryonic stem cell therapy within the 1st 2 weeks of sustaining their injury.

The treatment has been cleared to being clinical trials at 7 centres across the US.

This therapy could be extremely beneficial for anyone who has suffered a spinal trauma following a car accident or sports related injury. For example, Christopher Reeve, who we all remember for playing the part of Superman, suffered severe injuries to his neck when he was thrown from his horse and left paralysed.

How it works

The cells will be injected into the patient's spine at the spot where they were injured, between 7-14 days after they became paralysed. It is hoped that the cell will repair the nerve damage that is the primary cause of paralysis after spinal injuries.

It is more common for a patient's paralysis to be due to a bruised spinal cord rather than a severed one. The bruising leads to intense inflammation and ends up killing the critical protective cells known as oligodendrocytes found in our spinal cord.

After a spinal trauma these types of cell die meaning the nerve cells cease to function and we become paralysed. The stem cells aim to encourage regrowth of myelin (the substance made by oligodendrocytes cells) and thus restoring the function of the spinal cord's damaged nerves.

If the clinical trials go well, larger effectiveness trials could begin within 2 years and if successful, therapy could be licensed for more widespread clinical use with 3-5 years.

Further information – Catastrophic Injury Compensation

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