Hundreds of thousands of people experience spinal cord injuries, in many cases experiencing loss of movement and physical sensation due to nerve damage.
There are virtually no treatments aside from intensive physical rehabilitation programs. However, new results from a phase 2 clinical trial give fresh hope for future remedies.
In a collaboration between Japanese and American scientists, thirteen patients with spinal cord injuries (SCI for short) registered a range of functional improvements in their conditions after receiving treatment from an intravenous infusion of their stem cells derived from their bone marrow.
The stem cells are called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs for short). They are adult stem cells capable of differentiation into various cell types, helping them repair bone, cartilage, muscle or fat tissue.
Though the cells offer a vast potential, their use as functional therapy was controversial for years, especially after Japan managed to fast-track commercialisation approval in late 2018, before receiving sound evidence regarding the experimental cure’s safety and effectiveness.
The researchers between Stemirac (that is the official name of the therapy) have extra data to share. Though it isn’t enough to convince critics, the discoveries feature valuable information regarding what MSCs can do for SCI patients.
Stephen Waxman, a neurologist of Yale University and senior study author, stated:
“The idea that we may be able to restore function after injury to the brain and spinal cord using the patient’s own stem cells has intrigued us for years […] Now we have a hint, in humans, that it may be possible.”
That is terrific news and will likely lead to a potential cure in the future.