The miracle of science

Jasper before therapy

Miracle cell therapy lets paralyzed dog walk again, may someday help people

NY Daily News: A 10-year-old dachshund left paralyzed after he was hit by a car can walk again thanks to a ground-breaking study that could eventually have major implications for humans.

Researchers at Cambridge University took cells from the lining of Jasper’s nose and injected them into his spine, restoring his ability to move his hind legs. “Now, he whizzes around the house and garden and is able to keep up with the other dogs,” his owner, May Hay, told BBC. “It’s wonderful.”

Jasper was one of 34 dogs to take part in the research, a collaboration between the university’s Veterinary School and the Medical Research Council’s Regenerative Medicine Centre. All of the dogs studied suffered paralyzed hind legs.

Some 23 participants received injections of their own olfactory ensheathing cells in their spine, while the remaining were given neutral fluid. Several of the dogs that received the nose cell injections were able to regain mobility. Many, including Jasper, are able to walk on a treadmill with the help of a harness. The 11 who received the neutral injection failed to show any signs of improvement.

Professor Robert Franklin, the study’s co-author and a regenerist biologist at the Wellcome Trust-MRC Stem Cell Institute, said his team was thrilled by the results, the first to prove the effectiveness of transplanting nose cells.

Olfactory ensheathing cells, unlike others in the central nervous system, are believed to regenerate.

“We’re confident that the technique might be able to restore at least a small amount of movement in human patients with spinal cord injuries but that’s a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function,” Franklin said in a statement. 

Professor Geoffrey Raisman, the first to discover olfactory ensheathing cells, said there is much more research to be done. “This is not a cure for spinal cord injury in humans – that could still be a long way off,” Raisman told BBC. “But this is the most encouraging advance for some years and is a significant step on the road toward it.”

Very encouraging indeed!

DCG

4 responses to “The miracle of science

  1. These aren’t stem cells, right? I’m guessing they’re unspecialized nerve cells, which once placed somewhere else they specialize for the target zone. Does this mean we could use other kind of not-so-specialized cells in other places and they’d specialize for that target too?

    • I don’t believe they are stem cells. It sounds like a promising technology.

    • They are not neural stem cells (NSC) but rather are glia, cells that serve support and protection roles for neurons in the brain and other places in the autonomic nervous system where neurons exist such as the spine.

      The olfactory sheathing cells used in in this experiment are really specialized neuroglia that serve the neurons that produce the sense of smell—the only neurons that are directly exposed to the environment.

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