For many years, scientists have been attempting to help paralysed people to walk again and a recent study on pet dogs has proven hopeful.
Jasper, a Dachshund, recently underwent treatment to help him regain mobility in his hind legs. The treatment involved extracting cells from the dog’s nose to fill gaps in the spinal cord. Jasper’s owner was pleasantly surprised to discover him walking and running perfectly well following the treatment. This breakthrough offers hope to the millions of paralysed human patients around the UK and the rest of the world.
In fact, this trial proved how effective the treatment could be for humans and, speaking about the discovery, Professor Robin Franklin from Cambridge University said:
“Our findings are extremely exciting because they show for the first time that transplanting these types of cell into a severely damaged spinal cord can bring about significant improvement.”
Olfactory ensheathing cells, otherwise known as OECs, have been studied by scientists for spinal cord repair for more than 10 years and it seems that their theories have been proved right.
The brain and the nose can communicate because olfactory enseathing cells support the growth of nerve fibres, and scientific research showed that this could be useful for healing damaged spinal cord tissue. During the scientific dog study, 34 dogs with back problems and spinal injuries underwent treatment and, a year on, mobility in the hind legs drastically improved. These findings will now be used to determine whether the treatment will work for human patients, which is predicted to be safe.