Paralyzed accident victim partakes in stem cell clinical trials

May 29th, 2012 - by DKRPA

In September of 2010 a nursing student was paralyzed in an auto accident. In April of last year, he volunteered to become the first-ever patient to receive human embryonic stem-cell treatment for his paralysis that was a result of a spinal cord injury he suffered in that car accident. He regained some feelings in his legs. After months of not being able to move his body from the waist down, he is now able to feel a “very slight sensation” when he lifts a bowling ball off his lap.

To many doctors this is a medical breakthrough of miraculous proportions. And no doubt some Florida residents may be intrigued by this patient’s willingness to participate in a first-of-its-kind clinical trial that may provide hope for paralysis victims everywhere. The human clinical trials are not without controversy however.

A bioethicist, and supporter of stem-cell therapies, at the University of Pennsylvania criticized the animal studies saying they were poorly designed and immensely risky. He claimed the animal studies were inadequate and provided little proof they could help humans or were safe enough to justify a human trial. One year later, of the ten patients involved in the clinical trials not one of them has experienced any adverse reactions from the treatment itself.

A neurobiologist at the University of California Irvine developed the research. The therapy utilizes embryonic stem cells that are destined to become spinal cord cells called oligodendrocytes. The cells are the basis for myelin, a biological insulation of sorts for nerve fibers that are critical in maintaining the electrical conductivity within the central nervous system.

When this myelin is stripped away through disease or injury, paralysis can set in. The doctor’s initial study involved rats and showed that rats that had experienced a spinal cord injury in the neck and received the treatment recovered 97 percent of their ability to walk after one week. Rats with the same injuries that were not treated only recovered up to 38 percent of their ability to walk.

If you know someone who has been seriously injured in a car accident, or any other accident, this new treatment may offer some hope in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Medical expenses and treatments associated with spinal cord injuries can be incredibly expensive and is just one reason why it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if you are injured through no fault of your own.

Source: The Daily Reckoning, “”Arise and Walk!” – A Miracle Cure in the Works,” Severine Kirchner, May 28, 2012

Tags: car accidents, paralysis, personal injury, spinal cord injuries