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Can Paralysis Be Reversed?

Researchers recently completed the first study ever to demonstrate restoration of mobility following chronic spinal cord injuries.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), recently completed the first study ever to demonstrate that the use of human neural stem cells can restore mobility following chronic spinal cord injuries, raising hope for treatment of many related conditions and diseases.

Past breakthroughs have focused only on acute spinal cord injuries, looking at recovery during the few weeks after trauma, when drug treatments can aid in functional recovery; thus the significance of this study, which showed the therapy could restore mobility after inflammation had stabilized, recovery had reached a plateau, and no drug treatments could aid in recovery.

"Human neural stem cells are a novel therapeutic approach that holds much promise for spinal cord injury," said co-lead researcher Aileen Anderson, associate professor of physical medicine & rehabilitation and anatomy & neurobiology, UCI. "This study builds on the extensive work we previously published in the acute phase of injury and offers additional hope to those who are paralyzed or have impaired motor function."

For the current study, human neural stem cells were transplanted into mice 30 days after sustaining a paralyzing spinal cord injury. Mice that received the implants demonstrated significant and persistent recovery of walking ability in two separate test of motor function, three months after initial treatment, compared with controls.

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