October 22, 2014
Darek Fidyka is a paralytic who has been able to walk again after undergoing groundbreaking therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord. He was paralyzed from the chest down as a result of a stab assault in 2010.
The treatment was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London. Geoff Raisman, chair of neuronal regeneration at the Institute of Neurology at University College London, led the UK research team.
The treatment used special cells that are part of the sense of smell called olfactory enveloping glia cells (OECs). OECs facilitate the nerve fibers in the olfactory system to renew themselves continuously. By using those from the same patient, the risk of rejection was avoided, as well as the use of immunosuppressive drugs, such as those used in conventional transplants from donors.
In the first of two operations, one of the olfactory bulbs was removed and the cells were cultured. Two weeks later they transplanted the ECOs into the spinal cord, which had been cut by the knife with which Fidyka had been attacked.
Via Paralytic is walking again thanks to a pioneering transplant.
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