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Paralyzed Man Walks Again

By Arup Chanda, The Tribune Trust, February 25, 2007

After the first successful stem cell treatment in India for spinal cord injuries, a 23-year-old man who was paralyzed from the waist down was able to walk. After only two months of adult stem cell therapy, he has regained the ability to walk. Doctorís said that the procedure usually works best on recent injuries in younger individuals, but could be used to treat all paraplegics. There were no ethical concerns connected to the treatment, nor was there any risk of rejection.

Last October, while Akbar was working at a construction site in Abu Dhabi, he fell from the fourth floor of a building and sustained significant injuries to his spinal cord.

He was treated quickly after the accident but the procedure, designed to stabilize his spinal cord, was unsuccessful. He lost sensation in his legs and became paralyzed below the waist about a month later upon his return to India.

He was admitted to the hospital since he could no longer control his own bowel movements or urine. Akbar was then considered a candidate for autologous stem cell therapy according to doctors at the hospital. The treatment involves taking stem cell from the patientís own body and re-injecting them at the site of damage. There is no chance for immune rejection since the cells come from that patient and not an external source.

Stem cells were injected into Akbarís spinal cord after almost 100ml of his bone marrow was removed. The stem cells were harvested from the bone marrow and isolated prior to injection. The technology used at the Indian hospital was available thanks to a collaborative effort with the Japanese Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

Enabling vessels and neurons for grow, the stem cells emit trophic factors. A component of the cells becomes part of the growing nerves, another part becomes integral to the region.

Ali can now control his urine for up to two hours. But even more important, he has regained more than 50 percent of the lost sensation below his waist and can now walk once again. All this only two months after the therapy.

Doctorís said that the procedure usually works best on recent injuries in younger individuals, but could be used to treat all paraplegics.

Treatment's for Parkinsonís disease, liver failure, cardiac problems, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis, are also being investigated by the hospital. The stem cell therapy could have abroad impact on human illness.

There were no ethical concerns connected to the treatment, nor was there any risk of rejection. These were two of the several advantages that autologous stem cell therapy offered over controversial embryonic stem cell treatment and research.

The treatment could aid a personís siblings, parents, and even grandparents. Preserving stem cells serves as a type of bio-insurance for an entire family say doctors at the hospital.


 

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