First-in-human clinical study found improved motor and sensory function in three of four participants
Writing in the June 1 issue of Cell Stem Cell, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that a first-in-human phase I clinical trial in which neural stem cells were transplanted into participants with chronic spinal cord injuries produced measurable improvement in three of four subjects, with no serious adverse effects.
A paraplegic undergoes pioneering surgery.
When a spinal cord is damaged, location is destiny: the higher the injury, the more severe the effects. The spine has thirty-three vertebrae, which are divided into five regions—the coccygeal, the sacral, the lumbar, the thoracic, and the cervical. The nerve-rich cord traverses nearly the entire length of the spine. The nerves at the bottom of the cord are well buried, and sometimes you can walk away from damage to these areas. In between are insults to the long middle region of the spine, which begins at the shoulders and ends at the midriff.
GEORGINA Fiorentino thought her life was over when she lost feeling in her legs and became reliant on a wheelchair.
“You go through a whole process in your mind that it’s all too hard,” the Essendon North resident said.
“A lot of people have no idea the bits and pieces that follow on from a spinal injury.
“There are so many other things that are affected that are worse than not being able to walk.”
Martyn Ashton wants to inspire others
In 2013, stunt cyclist Martyn Ashton, a former world champion mountain biker, crashed during a cycling event and was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Stan Clawson loves to open the door for people. “They don’t expect it,” he says. Clawson, a filmmaker and communications professor based in Salt Lake City, is in his late 30s with sandy hair, blue eyes, and a handlebar mustache. He’s tall, “six-foot-four,” he says, “you know… laying down. Upright? I’m not sure. Maybe four-foot-eight? Four-ten?”
Clawson has the deep, dynamic voice of a radio announcer and something of the devil in him. He’s been in a wheelchair since a rock climbing accident when he was 20 years old, when he fell 49 feet and severed his spinal cord between the T9 and T10 vertebrae. Since then, he’s learned to boogie board and downhill ski. He’s competed in marathons. And he’s earned advanced certifications as an open water diver.
A sound technician whose spine was shattered in a major accident has urged caution over a “breakthrough” procedure which enabled a man to walk again.
Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down in a brutal knife attack in 2010, can now walk using a frame after cells were transplanted from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord.
The treatment, which was a world first, was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London.
SACRAMENTO, CA – Tresa Honaker has adapted to life’s changes with an unwavering resolve and trust.
“It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life,” Honaker said.
It is a moment I will always remember. On a warm summer’s day in Wroclaw, Poland, Darek Fidyka walked across a bridge, using only a frame for support.
This had been his dream for four years, after he was paralysed in a knife attack. Now, after a transplant of cells taken from his nasal cavity, it had become reality.
He is the world’s first patient to receive the groundbreaking treatment.
Behind those few steps lay the extraordinary efforts of a group of scientists, surgeons and fundraisers in Britain and Poland.
The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has received permission from the Food and Drug Administration to begin a Phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety of transplanting human Schwann cells to treat patients with recent spinal cord injuries.
We are not recruiting anybody until we obtain approval from our Institutional Review Board.
This trial is just 1 brick in the wall. We will continue working with our scientific colleagues to test other “bricks” in the wall to ultimately develop a strong defense to prevent or reverse the many effects of paralysis.
As of yet, scientists and researchers have not been able to completely reverse the damage caused by spinal cord injury, but a core group of experts in this fast-moving field have been making advances with therapies that can return function and make life easier for SCI patients.
On Nov. 5, the Institute for Advanced Reconstruction at The Plastic Surgery Center in Shrewsbury, N.J., will be hosting a symposium for medical professionals to discuss advancement in treatment for SCI patients.