Cell Transplant Helps Paralyzed Man Walk Again

Cell Transplant Helps Paralyzed Man Walk Again

The brain and cervical spinal cord – FC3882

A 40 year old Polish man, who was paralyzed from the chest down in 2010, has regained his ability to walk after a team of Polish surgeons and British scientists transplanted sensory nerve cells into his injured spinal cord.  The treatment involves regenerative olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC’s) found on olfactory bulbs, the sensory nerves responsible for our sense of smell.  Surgeons grew OEC’s in a cell culture after removing one of the patient’s olfactory bulbs, and grafted thin strips of nervous tissue harvested from his ankle to bridge a gap in the injured spinal cord.  The OEC’s were injected into the spine, stimulating a pathway for spinal cord cells to regenerate along the harvested nerve grafts.

Six months after the treatment, the patient’s legs had regained enough muscle and sensation for him to take his first steps using supportive rails and leg braces.  After two years of intensive physical rehabilitation, he can now walk on his own and has recovered some bladder and bowel sensation, as well as sexual function.  Since the transplant involved the patient’s own cells, researchers note that there is no risk of rejection or need for immunosuppressive drugs, as seen in other transplant surgeries.

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