Stem Cell therapy safe after a spinal cord injury: Study

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New York, April 1 (IANS) Stem cell therapy can be a safe option for people suffering from hard-to-treat traumatic spinal cord injuries, according to results of a phase 1 clinical trial revealed on Monday.

The trial, published by the Mayo Clinic in the US, showed that stem cells that are derived from a patient’s own fat are safe and may help in improving sensation and movement for people living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.

“This study documents the safety and potential benefit of stem cells and regenerative medicine,” said Mohamad Bydon, a neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic.

The study, appearing in the journal Nature Communications, included 10 adults. Of these, seven demonstrated improvements like “increased sensation when tested with pinprick and light touch, increased strength in muscle motor groups, and recovery of voluntary anal contraction, which aids in bowel function.”

While the remaining three patients showed no improvement, it did not get worse, the trial showed. No serious adverse events were recorded after the treatment, and the most commonly reported side effects were headache and musculoskeletal pain that resolved with over-the-counter treatment.

Even as the spinal cord has limited ability to repair its cells or make new ones, “even a mild improvement can make a significant difference in that patient’s quality of life,” Dr. Bydon said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 250,000 and 500,000 people worldwide suffer a spinal cord injury each year. However, options to improve the condition are extremely limited.

“For years, treatment of spinal cord injury has been limited to supportive care, more specifically stabilisation surgery and physical therapy,” Dr. Bydon said.

“Spinal cord injury is a complex condition. Future research may show whether stem cells in combination with other therapies could be part of a new paradigm of treatment to improve outcomes for patients,” he added.



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