Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Paralyzed Man Walks Again After Brain Cells Are Injected into His Spine

Back in 2010, Darek Fidyka became paralyzed from the waist down after suffering stab wounds to his back. Now, after 19 months of treatment in which cells from his brain were transplanted into his spinal column, he can walk with a frame. Researchers are calling it a "historic breakthrough."
The new technique, the details of which now appear in the latest edition of Cell Transplantation, involve olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), which come from a part of our brains that deals with the sense of smell. By transplanting them into Fidyka's spinal column, the neurologists were able to construct a "nerve bridge" between two stumps of the damaged spinal column.
"We believe... this procedure is the breakthrough which, as it is further developed, will result in a historic change in the currently hopeless outlook for people disabled by spinal cord injury," noted the study's lead author Geoffrey Raisman in a Reuters article. He's currently a professor at University College London's (UCL) institute of neurology.
Fidyka, who's 38 years old, has recovered some voluntary movement and some sensation in his legs. He's continuing to improve more than predicted, and he's now able to drive and live more independently.
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