For the very first time, researchers are reporting positive outcomes from the use of neural stem cell injections to treat patients who have suffered paralysis from spinal cord injury.
The patients were administered stem cells provided by a California company, Stemand Cells. According to some of the patients, they have been able to recover sensation in the affected areas of their body after they were given the treatment.
Three people were included in the study, and they were administered injections of 20 million stem cells. The stem cells were injected into the damaged area of the spinal cord. The stem cells came from donated fetal brain tissue, and were administered to the patients, between 4 and 8 months after they had suffered a spinal cord injury.
Before the study, none of the patients reported any sensation below their chest. However, once they received the injections, 2 of them reported some amount of sensation in the area between the chest and belly button. These patients were able to respond to touch, heat as well as electrical impulses, and the scientists are even more excited at this development because they were not expecting this rate of progress. According to the researchers, these 2 patients are very close to the normal rates of sensation now.
The progress was noted about 6 months into the program. The 3rd patient has reportedly not reported any recovery of sensation.
Granted, this improvement in 2 patients does not necessarily mean a dramatic step forward for stem cell research, but the fact that scientists have been able to report positive outcomes from the use of neural stem cells to treat paralysis is definitely encouraging.