Nose for a cure: Could the key to helping spine injury victims walk be right in front of your eyes?

Published: December 16, 2008  |  Source:

article-0-02d0c71b000005dc-473_233x423Stem cells taken from the nose could help spinal injury victims regain movement, new research suggests.

Tests on paralysed rats showed they were able to move their hind legs just six weeks after being injected with human nose cells.

Scientists at the University of New South Wales, Australia, where the research is being carried out, hope the results will eventually lead to a successful clinical trial on humans.

Not to be sniffed at: The key to fixing spinal injury could be right in front of your eyes
Not to be sniffed at: The key to fixing spinal injury could be right in front of your eyes

They used special cells, called olfactory ensheathing glia cells, to help regenerate nerves in the spine. These cells normally help with the growth of fibres linking the lining of the nose with the brain.

They were chosen because of their apparent ability to help spinal cord nerve fibres grow. ‘We think these cells have a lot of potential,’ said Dr Catherine Gorrie, who led the research.

‘They are very accessible. It’s a relatively simple procedure to take them from the patient, grow more of them in the laboratory and then insert them back into the same person.’

The results, presented at a recent Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington DC, showed rats injected with the human nose cells regained more limb function than those not given the treatment.

The spinal cord acts as the main connection between the brain and the rest of the body. It is estimated that there are at least 40,000 people in the UK living with spinal injuries.

By Daily Mail Reporter