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New Spinal Injury Research Promises Way Forward for Paralysis Victims

Posted in Blog on May 25, 2013

Beginning next month, researchers will begin studying a new technique for the treatment of spinal cord injury.  The trials are the first of their kind in the world, and promise new hope to persons who have suffered a spinal cord injury and live with lower limb paralysis.  The announcement of the trials was made by the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, an organization that is dedicated to developing a treatment for spinal cord injury.

For the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, this day has been a long while coming.  The foundation was established by former NFL linebacker Nick Buoniconti, who began the fight for a long-term cure for spinal cord injury, often his son Mark suffered an injury during his college days.  Mark is currently paralyzed, and has no sensation or movement in his lower limbs at all.

The trials have just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and the studies will initially focus on 8 newly injured patients.  The technique involves transplantation of peripheral nerve containing Schwan cells, in the hope that these will generate millions of new cells.  These cells will then be injected into the area of the spinal cord injury.  The researchers are specifically looking for patients aged between 18 and 50, who have suffered a spinal cord injury that has left them with complete paralysis of the legs.

It’s important to assert here that that these are not stem cells.  The researchers are hoping that the Schwann cells will encourage the damaged cells and neurons in the injured spinal cord area to grow. What’s more, the researchers believe that Schwann cells can ultimately even be used for the treatment of other conditions, like brain injuries and neurological degenerative diseases.