LONDON, England, 12/1/05
British surgeons hope a new procedure using stem cells from the lining of the nose will help mend severed nerves of paralyzed patients and may one day allow them to walk again. Neuroscientist Geoffrey Raisman discovered 20 years ago that the cells responsible for sense of smell are good at renewing themselves. When these cells were injected into the spines of rats they appeared to help cure damage to the nervous system.
Now Raisman hopes to transfer that technology to humans, and will begin clinical trials early next year. He will begin trials with 10 patients who have suffered a type of injury most often seen in motorcycle accidents where nerves in the arm are pulled out of the spinal cord.
Since the cells come from the patients themselves, there is no risk of them being rejected by the immune system. The procedure involves taking stem cells from the lining of the nose and using them to create a “bridge” between the severed ends of the nerves. Raisman said that until now it had not been possible to repair the major nerves running through the spinal cord or branching off from it.
“The injury occurs when a blow to the shoulder pulls nerve fibres out of the spinal cord — it’s like pulling a plug out of a socket. We’re trying to make the nerve fibres grow back in,” Britain’s Press Association reported him as saying.
“It’s never been done before. If successful it will open the door to treating all kinds of connective nerve fibre conditions, including spinal injuries, the most severe kinds of stroke, and blindness and deafness caused by nerve fibre injury.”
Raisman said the success of the first trial is crucial because harvesting stem cells is such a difficult task.
At present only small numbers can be retrieved, limiting the kinds of injury that can be treated. The new trial is seen as a first step to demonstrating that the technique works in humans.
“If it succeeds it will show that these cells are effective at restoring nerve fibre connections,” PA reported Raisman as saying.
If successful, the procedure could also help restore sight to the blind.
See also: Nasal stem cell transplants ‘show promise’, Couple seeks medical miracle in Portugal, Chinese surgeon gives hope to the paralysed, Spinal cord cells to be repaired by using nose cells, Nose cells could reverse paralysis, Surgeons attempt spinal repairs using nose cells, MGH study finds first function for, promising flexibility in adult-born nerve cells, Neurons Generated In The Adult Brain Learn To Respond To Novel Stimuli, Turning to stem cells.

The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).