Spinal cord injuries are often devastating. Many of them can lead to at least partial paralysis, if not entire paralysis of certain parts of a person’s body. This means the person may have to rely on help for daily tasks that many of us take for granted. If the person isn’t able to work because of their injuries, this can be devastating to a family’s income and the person’s self esteem.

A medical research study for spinal cord injuries that started earlier this year has passed a 30-day critical waiting period to declare success. Researchers now say that they have successfully transplanted Schwann cells from a nerve in a man’s leg into his spinal cord. This procedure will hopefully lead to at least some restored function for patients that experienced paralysis. While only 8 people will be a part of the clinical trial, researchers hope that this study will pave the way toward curing paralysis.

The study also hopes that Schwann cell transplants can one day lead to cures for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Because of the success of the initial transplant, the researchers are now seeking more patients to participate in the study.

While there are specific criteria for a person to be enrolled in the study, the success that the researchers have had so far is giving hope to many other patients who are not eligible to participate. With 1.3 million people living with paralysis in the United States, a cure or even the ability to restore some function in a patient could improve the lives of many people.

Source: Sun Sentinel, “Doctors seek new subjects after first successful cell transplant,” Diane C. Lade, March 14, 2013

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