by Steven Ertelt
December 4, 2005
London, England (LifeNews.com) — Advocates of embryonic stem cell research say more money is needed worldwide for the controversial research to help spinal cord injury patients like deceased Superman star Christopher Reeve. But adult stem cells are already ready to be tried in clinical studies to help such patients.
British researchers say adult stem cells found in the lining of the nose has helped mend paralyzed nerves in rats and could help spinal cord injury patients walk again if they are successful in humans.
Neuroscientist Geoffrey Raisman discovered 20 years ago that the cells responsible for sense of smell are good at renewing themselves and when they were injected into the spines of rates, they were very effective in curing damage to the nervous system.
Raisman hopes they will be as effective with humans and he’s working with new clinical trials at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London early next year.
There have been no clinical trials of embryonic stem cells and spinal cord injury patients.
Raisman heads the spinal repair unit at University College London and he will perform the treatments with the adult stem cells on 10 patients.
The cells avoid one of the biggest problems with embryonic stem cells in that they come from each of the 10 patients and won’t be rejected by their immune systems.
The cells from the nose will be injected to create a "bridge" in the spinal cord from cells there to unattached cells in other limbs.
"The injury occurs when a blow to the shoulder pulls nerve fibers out of the spinal cord — it’s like pulling a plug out of a socket. We’re trying to make the nerve fibers grow back in," Britain’s Press Association reported him as saying.
"It’s never been done before. If successful it will open the door to treating all kinds of connective nerve fiber conditions, including spinal injuries, the most severe kinds of stroke, and blindness and deafness caused by nerve fiber injury."