The Soon to be Unbroken
I don’t have time to blog today, but something Earth-shaking has occurred. I would be very remiss if I continued to talk about space here and not make room for this equally far-reaching discovery…if it’s true.
Don’t get your hopes up, but researchers in Poland seem to have found a way to regrow central nervous system tissue.
Darek Fidyka, a Bulgarian fire fighter, was stabbed. The blade severed his spinal cord. He lost all sensation and motor function in his legs and some in his arms. The father of another paralysis victim, a chef, had started the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation which funded some important research that had been tested successfully in mice.
A physician in Poland transplanted Olfactory Ensheathing Cells (OECs), grown from nerve cells removed from Darek’s nose, to the site of the break in his spinal cord. Then he transplanted some nerve tissue from Darek’s ankle to serve as scaffolding for new nerve growth. In the nose, OECs help facilitate repair and re-connect nerve cells after injuries (seriously! Click the Wiki at the top of this paragraph!). In Derek’s spinal cord they did the same thing. In months, sensation started to return to one of his legs. I think I read that after a year muscle tone had started to return. At three years he can walk again with the help of parallel bars.
They’ll do more trials, and it might be a decade or more before this treatment is fully approved and widely available, but I’m sure you understand that the implications of this are staggering. All my life I’ve been told that major nerve tissue just does not reconnect and that victims of various tragic accidents which have damaged their brain or other major nerve cells will never return to a normal life.
Like I said…Earth-shaking. How many are there in the world who might benefit from this procedure? How many other things might this technology branch out into?
See the related articles below and the text links above for more details.