Spinal cord injuries remain one of the most difficult medical problems to
treat. But a new groundbreaking surgery has been carried out in China, giving
hope that paralysed people may one day walk again.
The regenerative stem cell treatment follows more than 10 years of research
by Chinese scientists. The four hour long surgery was conducted in Tianjin.
"This man was paralyzed in his lower body after he was involved in a traffic
accident two months ago. The doctors treating him have implanted stem cells
into his spinal column, using regenerative nerve material developed at the
Chinese Academy of Sciences. It's the first time regenerative spinal cord
surgery has been attempted, anywhere in the world.
A scar was formed in the first surgery to occupy the entire damaged part of
the spine. We then cut it out, about 2.8 centimeters in size, and replaced it
with a tube containing stem cells," said Tang Fengwu, China Police
The experiment in animal models was begun in The Institute of Genetics and
Development at the Chinese Academy of Sciences ten years ago.
They started with mice, and then progressed to bigger animals, like dogs.
The experiments were successful.
Dai Jianwu, research fellow at Inst. of Genetics & Dev't, CAS said that,
"Spinal nerves are like a cable. So we've designed collagenous fibers,
like a bridge or a rail, that nerves can crawl along as they grow. Stem cells
can produce regenerative tissue elements, so they improve the regeneration
capacity of the wounded area."
Another six paralyzed patients are now set to take the groundbreaking
surgery. New hope for six more families and perhaps a huge breakthrough for
spinal cord injuries, across the world.