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Paralysed man walks again after pioneering cell therapy

Tue, Oct 21, 2014, 10:17 PM
London, Oct 21 : A paralysed man has been able to walk again after therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Bulgarian Darek Fidyka, 40, who suffered a partial paralysis in the lower half after a knife attack in 2010, was able to walk again using a metal frame that helps him to keep his balance.

He has also managed to drive after the treatment, which was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London.

"When you cannot feel almost half your body, you are helpless, but when it starts coming back it is like you were born again," he was quoted as saying.

Details of the treatment are set to be published in the Cell Transplantation journal, while the BBC One's Panorama programme is scheduled to broadcast a documentary on the therapy.

Geoff Raisman, chair of neural regeneration at University College London's Institute of Neurology, who led the British research team, said the treatment was "more impressive than man walking on the moon".

The treatment used olfactory ensheathing cells, or OECs, specialist cells that form part of the sense of smell.

OECs act as pathway cells that enable nerve fibres in the olfactory system to be continually renewed.

About 100 micro-injections of OECs were made above and below the injury suffered by Fidyka, who had spent two years undergoing physiotherapy and had shown no signs of recovery.

Four thin strips of nerve tissue were also taken from the patient's ankle and placed across a 8-mm gap on the left side of the spinal cord.

After the transplant operation, Fidyka started a five-hour exercise programme five days a week at the Akson Neuro-Rehabilitation Centre in Wroclaw.

He first noticed that the treatment had been successful after about three months, when his left thigh began putting on muscle.

Six months after the surgery, Fidyka was able to take his first steps along parallel bars, using leg braces and the support of a physiotherapist.

Two years later, he can now walk outside the rehabilitation centre using a frame. He has also recovered some bladder and bowel sensation and sexual function.

Pawel Tabakow, consultant neurosurgeon at Wroclaw University Hospital, who led the Polish research team, said: "It's amazing to see how regeneration of the spinal cord, something that was thought impossible for many years, is becoming a reality."
Agency: IANS

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