Treating Spine Injury in Dogs via Stem Cell Transplant
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A pleasant example of what can sometimes be achieved with even comparatively crude autologous stem cell therapies:

Scientists have reversed paralysis in dogs after injecting them with cells grown from the lining of their nose. The pets had all suffered spinal injuries which prevented them from using their back legs. The [team] is cautiously optimistic the technique could eventually have a role in the treatment of human patients. The study is the first to test the transplant in "real-life" injuries rather than laboratory animals. [The] dogs had olfactory ensheathing cells from the lining of their nose removed. These were grown and expanded for several weeks in the laboratory.

Of 34 pet dogs on the proof of concept trial, 23 had the cells transplanted into the injury site - the rest were injected with a neutral fluid. Many of the dogs that received the transplant showed considerable improvement and were able to walk on a treadmill with the support of a harness. None of the control group regained use of its back legs.

The researchers say the transplanted cells regenerated nerve fibres across the damaged region of the spinal cord. This enabled the dogs to regain the use of their back legs and coordinate movement with their front limbs. The new nerve connections did not occur over the long distances required to connect the brain to the spinal cord. [In] humans this would be vital for spinal injury patients who had lost sexual function and bowel and bladder control. ... This is not a cure for spinal cord injury in humans - that could still be a long way off. But this is the most encouraging advance for some years and is a significant step on the road towards it.

Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20365355

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