Spinal cord injuries, resulting in permanent disability or paralysis in most cases, account for around eleven thousand new cases in the US, annually. Due to the lack of effective treatment strategies, it is considered as the most devastating of all traumatic conditions. Now, a recent study published in the journal Stem Cells reports that activation of ependymal stem/progenitor cells from injured spinal cord (epSPCi), using endogenous stem cell-associated mechanisms, may aid in rescuing neurological function, thereby reversing paralysis associated with spinal cord injuries.
Hans Keirstead, a researcher at University of California, Irvine, is set to begin a small human trial of his embryonic stem cell treatment on patients with spinal cord injuries. The treatment is designed for patients within 14 days of suffering spinal cord injuries. In rat trials, paralyzed rats were injected with a stem cell formula. The paralyzed rats were able to walk six weeks later.