One step closer to treating spinal cord injury with our own stem cells – Speaking of Research

Recently, a team of scientists from Yale University and Sapparo Medical University in Japan treated spinal cord injury patients with their own bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), increasing their ability to walk and use their hands. Previous to the treatment, 13 patients had sustained falls or minor spinal trauma resulting in loss of motor function, coordination, sensory loss, as well as bowel and bladder dysfunction. After being bedridden for several weeks from an unexpected fall, the first patient was extremely thankful to be able to independently use a wheelchair and walk upright with a walker. Thanks to their own stem cells.

This published research was just a trial in safety and tolerability in humans. Meaning that it doesn’t definitively demonstrate that the MSC treatment resulted in improved motor ability compared to no treatment or more conventional approaches (i.e. there’s no proven efficacy). This is exactly what the team of scientists and physicians are planning to do next, now that they know it is safe. But how did we get here?

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