Stem Cell Study Shows Promise for Paralyzed Patients
October 11, 2017
Stem cell therapy is among the most exciting developments in modern medicine. The science is still in its early stages, so it’s not quite time to make an appointment, but legitimate trials are beginning to show promising results.
Can Stem Cells Cure Paralysis?
Asterias Biotherapeutics conducted one of the largest human trials in 2016, using a sample group of six patients with varying degrees of paralysis. The trial’s results began to roll in in October 2017, a year after 10 million stem cells had been transplanted. Four of the six patients experienced improved mobility significant enough to impact their quality of life. While a study of this size and scope cannot be viewed as conclusive, researchers have high hopes based on these results.
Human Trials in Stem Cell Spine Research
As yet, most trials have had small sample groups or animal subjects. Stem cell research has ambled along at a sluggish pace, and Asterias’ trial patients may have improved for reasons unrelated to the use of embryonic cells. Spontaneous recovery is surprisingly common in patients with some forms of paralysis. 27% of traumatic six-nerve palsy patients recover on their own, and most of those with Bell’s palsy recuperate within six weeks.
Stem cells could restore communication between your body and brain, but with no clear direction in sight, researchers are still arriving at the most effective way to handle transplants. 99% of spinal cord injury patients who are paralyzed a month after a back injury never walk again, so researchers have been focusing on transplanting new cells into the cavity formed by the damaged area in the spinal cord. They also hope that stem cell therapy will reduce inflammation that causes further paralysis.
Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka says there are 10 diseases that may respond to embryonic stem cell therapy. Medical breakthroughs takes time, but the science is already beginning to prove its mettle.