A global spinal cord injury (SCI) stem cell trial—originating in Switzerland but currently focused in Canada—has recently seen extraordinary results.
Stem cell research, although controversial, has been the most exciting developmental research of the past decade and has provided invaluable insight into cellular growth and regeneration. This insight is extremely important for those who suffer from paralysis and spinal cord injury, because it may help prove that stem cells can help SCI victims regain sensory perception.
To determine if neural stem cells are a viable treatment for spinal cord injuries, the University of Calgary as well as the University of Toronto has begun stage II trials to build on the research from Zurich. Not only does this expand the trial data, but it will also help further the reach for potential volunteers and help showcase the results on an international scale. The hope is that by the completion of the study, the collective data will show that damaged or lost tissue can be regenerated by injecting stem cells into the spine.
The trial currently has nine volunteers who have been participating throughout the last twelve months. Once they were assessed and the precise spot of their injury was established, stem cells were injected directly above and below the injured site, with the hope that they would potentially regenerate the damaged tissue.
Although the study is still ongoing, two of the first three participants have already regained partial sensory function and have gone from complete injury classifications to incomplete injury classifications within six months of their injection. The third participant has also seen improvement on a lesser scale.
The trial is currently enrolling SCI patients in North America at two centers: the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto. Patients who may qualify and are interested in participating in the study should contact the University of Calgary at 403-944-4334 or the University of Toronto at 416-603-5285.