Paralyzed Man Can Now Walk Thanks to the Cells in His Nose
A knife attack put Darek Fidyka on his back for two years, but an amazing medical procedure appears to have partially mended his spinal cord.
The BBC reports that researchers and doctors in the U.K. and Poland figured out how to transplant cells from Fidyka’s nose to his spine, along with a bit of nervous tissue from his ankle. The olfactory ensheathing cells taken from the nose are key, because they’re the only cells in the nervous system that regenerate as we age through adulthood.
According to the Beeb, Fidyka has a long way to go, but he can now walk with some assistance outside the hospital.
Here’s how it works:
In the first of two operations, surgeons removed one of the patient’s olfactory bulbs and grew the cells in culture.
Two weeks later they transplanted the OECs into the spinal cord, which had been cut through in the knife attack apart from a thin strip of scar tissue on the right.
They had just a drop of material to work with – about 500,000 cells.
About 100 micro-injections of OECs were made above and below the injury.
Four thin strips of nerve tissue were taken from the patient’s ankle and placed across an 8mm (0.3in) gap on the left side of the cord.
The scientists believe the OECs provided a pathway to enable fibres above and below the injury to reconnect, using the nerve grafts to bridge the gap in the cord.
The scientists involved, whose work was funded by foundations, say they have no desire to profit from the breakthrough.
Read the full story at the BBC.
— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer