Nose Cells Help Dogs Walk Again After Spinal Cord Injury

Bioethics   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Nov 20, 2012   |   2:48PM   |   Washington, DC

Dogs are well known for their keen sense of smell. It turns out their noses are good for more than just detecting scent. Scientists in England have isolated cells from the noses of dogs with spinal cord injury and have used those cells to reverse the canines’ paralysis.

From BBC News:

Scientists have reversed paralysis in dogs after injecting them with cells grown from the lining of their nose.

In the study, funded by the Medical Research Council and published in the neurology journal Brain, the dogs had olfactory ensheathing cells from the lining of their nose removed.

These were grown and expanded for several weeks in the laboratory.

Of 34 pet dogs on the proof of concept trial, 23 had the cells transplanted into the injury site – the rest were injected with a neutral fluid.

Many of the dogs that received the transplant showed considerable improvement and were able to walk on a treadmill with the support of a harness.

None of the control group regained use of its back legs….



Professor Robin Franklin, a regeneration biologist at the Wellcome Trust-MRC Stem Cell Institute and report co-author, said: ‘Our findings are extremely exciting because they show for the first time that transplanting these types of cell into a severely damaged spinal cord can bring about significant improvement.

“We’re confident that the technique might be able to restore at least a small amount of movement in human patients with spinal cord injuries but that’s a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function. ‘

This is fantastic news for those with spinal cord injury. These olfactory ensheathing cells may not be able to restore all function, but they certainly have been shown to be able to reverse paralysis. And no embryos need to be destroyed. Remember Geron’s failed embryonic stem cell trial for spinal cord injury?

It seems a nose knows after all!