Today’s Solutions: May 19, 2022

Spinal cord injuries can cause serious damage to a person’s motor functions. To make matters worse, the spinal cord is one of the few parts of the body without the ability to repair itself.

Recently, scientists at Yale University attempted to repair the injured spinal cords of patients via intravenous injection of bone marrow stem cells (MSCs) derived from the patients themselves. As reported in the Journal of Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, more than half of the patients experienced substantial improvements in key functions, including the ability to walk or use their hands. Those improvements were observed within weeks of the stem cell injection, and no substantial side effects were reported.

Although more research must be done to confirm the results of this preliminary, unblinded trial, the results are quite astounding and have given the lead researchers reasons to be optimistic about the use of stem cells to repair injured spinal cords in the future.

“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,” said Stephen G. Waxman, Yale professor of neurology, neuroscience, and pharmacology. “Now we have a hint, in humans, that it may be possible.”

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