For people who have sustained spinal cord injuries, there may be good news on the horizon. Recently, a clinical trial began that could have positive implications for individuals who have been paralyzed.
The study is being conducted by The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. The clinical trial involves removing nerve tissue from the leg of an individual who has been paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury. The physicians then grow Schwann cells – which are different from stem cells – from the removed tissue. After the Schwann cells have grown, they are then transplanted back into the injured patient’s body.
The clinical trial will involve eight patients initially. In order to be eligible for the trial, the patient must be between the ages of 18 and 50 and have sustained an injury to his or her upper and middle back. The injury must have left the individual with a certain degree of paralysis. In addition, one of the trickier requirements to meet, the individual must have sustained the injury within five days before enrolling in the trial.
The most obvious application of the clinical trial is the anticipation that it will one day lead to a cure for paralysis. Researchers hope the study will have broader implications as well, as the treatment could be adapted to treat certain neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Currently, there are around 1.3 million Americans who have become paralyzed after suffering a spinal cord injury. Individuals who have suffered spinal cord damage due to another person’s negligence should seek the advice of a skilled legal professional.
Source: Sun Sentinel, “Doctors seek new subjects after first successful cell transplant,” Diane C. Lade, March 14, 2013.