From Medical Xpress:
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center are exploring a new therapy using stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries within the first 14 to 30 days of injury. Rush is only the second center in the country currently studying this new approach.
The therapy uses a population of cells derived from human embryonic stem cells containing progenitor cells that support nerve cells and can potentially make poorly functioning nerves function better.
“There are currently no therapies which successfully reverse the damage seen in the more than 12,000 individuals who suffer a spinal cord injury each year in the United States alone,” says Dr. Richard G. Fessler, professor of neurological surgery at Rush University Medical Center and principal investigator for the Phase 1 clinical trial involving AST-OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells). An estimated 1.3 million Americans are living with a spinal cord injury.
“These injuries can be devastating, causing both emotional and physical distress, but there is now hope. This is a new era where we are now able to test whether a dose of stem cells delivered directly to the injured site can have an impact on motor or sensory function,” says Fessler. “If we could generate even modest improvements in motor or sensory function, it would result in significant improvements in quality of life.”
The clinical trial is designed to assess safety and activity of escalating doses of the special cells (AST-OPC1) for individuals with a complete cervical spinal cord injury. Thus far, one individual has been enrolled in…