Man With Severed Spinal Cord Walks Again After Cell Transplant
A man paralyzed for two years is now walking again, albeit with a frame, after a transplant to his spine. The treatment, to be published in this month's Cell Transplantation, has been under discussion for a while, but has only now shown success. In 2010, Darek Fidyka was repeatedly stabbed, rendering him paralyzed from the chest down. Fortunately, however, his nose was unscathed. Olfactory ensheathing glia (OEGs) surround olfactory axons, the nerve fibers that conduct electrical charges from the nose to the brain to allow us to smell. What makes them of interest to spinal patients is that OEGs maintain their capacity to promote new neurons into adulthood. While some reptiles can grow new tails, for mammals the capacity for regrowth is lost in most of the nervous system. This capacity for regrowth has inspired spinal researchers frustrated by the fact that the mammalian central nervous system does not regenerate axons.
Related: Neuronal Regeneration
• Emerging Technologies