Stem cell therapy shows promise in spinal cord injury patient

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Advancements in the way that spinal cord injuries are being treated seem to happen often these days. One amazing event that occurred happened to a 21-year-old man who suffered a cervical spine injury when he was in a car accident just before his birthday. There was a good chance that the man would be paralyzed from his neck down.

Instead of accepting that fate, the man participated in a clinical trial. His results are nothing short of astonishing. As part of the clinical trial, 10 million AST-SPC1 cells were injected into his cervical spine.

Two weeks after the man’s surgical injection of stem cells, he was able to use his cellphone, feed himself and do other things with his hands and arms. He can operate a motorized wheelchair, so he has some measure of freedom. It seems as though his life has been positively impacted by the experimental therapy. The surgeon noted that 90 days after the treatment, the patient had a two spinal cord level improvement, which was all it took for him to be able to use his arms and hands instead of being fully paralyzed.

The man’s accident occurred on March 6, and the injection of stem cells occurred in April. The surgeon who led the surgical team working on the man noted that there is usually a surgery for patients who have this type of injury. That surgery stabilizes the spine, but isn’t likely to restore function. The experimental treatment is aimed at helping to restore neurological function that could allow limited function in these patients.

While this experimental treatment is far from being commonplace, it is very exciting to think of where this could go from here. Patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries are sometimes financially limited, which can affect their treatment options. For those patients, seeking compensation might be the key to being able to seek out new treatments that could be beneficial.

Source: USC News, “Experimental stem cell therapy helps paralyzed man regain use of arms and hands,” Med Aldrich, Sep. 08, 2016

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