Friday, November 23, 2012

Paralysis Reversal

I just read an amazingly cool article about reversing paralysis in dogs with spinal injuries! A team at Cambridge University was able to take cells from the lining of dogs' noses, grow them further in a laboratory, implant them at the sites of spinal injury, and repair some of the damage.

According to the article, the researchers used 34 paralyzed pet dogs, 23 of which were given the transplant and the rest of which were injected with a neutral fluid. None of the dogs who received the placebo saw any changes to mobility, whereas many of the dogs who received the transplant regained their back-leg functioning. Some of the dogs were even able to walk on a treadmill with the help of a harness and were moving towards full mobility once the muscles could rebuild.

Apparently, the cells at the back of the nose are among the only that continue to regenerate nerves into adulthood. When implanted into the spine, these cells helped to regrow the damaged nerves and reconnect "communication" in the spine.

Although the result is very encouraging, scientists say there is still a long way to go. While the dogs regained the ability to fully or partially move their legs, other higher functions, such as bladder control or heat regulation, are not as easily repaired. Furthermore, scientists have pointed out that the complexity and physical length of the spine-to-brain nerves in the human body are greater than that of dogs. Still, this is excellent news for the potential to heal spinal cord injuries in humans in the future.

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